metawidget: Person sitting cross-legged from the rear, in black and white with noise and scratches (body)
On my way home from picking up some vacuum-cleaner parts, I ran into Shawn, who runs Atelier Denu. I'd already talked to him a bit about trying out modelling in a session, and now I'm booked to pose next Tuesday. It'll be my first time posing naked to be drawn by people who don't otherwise see me naked. Five dollars gets you in (bring your own supplies) and it's free for high school students. If you come, be nice — the regulars all are.

I once posed in various states of dress and undress for a friend's art project. I don't know if the project ever saw the light of day. It was photography of people in their clothes, her neutral-looking overalls, and naked, to investigate the role of clothing in identity if I remember right. My Google skills aren't turning anything up; I don't know if all those rolls of film even got developed (last time I asked, I don't think they had been). A couple of years ago, I looked into posing at the Ottawa School of Art, but there was lots of paperwork and it felt like they wanted you to prove that you were serious: I'm not particularly serious, just looking to try out modelling and see how it feels. I'm feeling this should be an interesting experience and a good match for that. Elizabeth has often remarked on my “shamelessness,” referring to a quality that should make me reasonably confident and natural at getting up in front of people without clothes, we'll see if it manifests on the 22nd.
metawidget: Drawing of a prone nude woman (drawing)

Here are the promised drawings — everything I did on Friday, with some thoughts on how I made them and what I think of them. Click for somewhat larger lossless version.

Gesture drawing, interpretation left as an exercise to the reader.

I got started with some contour in a two-minute pose. Afterward, someone asked if I had been doing a blind contour. It wasn't actually my intention to do so.

11 more sheets, some more evident nudity in charcoal )
metawidget: Drawing of a prone nude woman (drawing)

Friday, inspired by [ profile] sassy_red_head, I went to the Ottawa sitting of Atelier Denu, a life drawing workshop where for two hours, a dozen or so people sit in a circle around a nude model and draw them (her in this case). No pedagogy, bring your own materials, Shawn the organizer just books the room, arranges for a model, keeps time and collects your $5. It's been over a decade since I've drawn a nude model, and perhaps it has been too long.

I found the place in the upper reaches of a (the?) fine art building at the university of Ottawa by following someone who looked like she knew where she was going (and asked if I was looking for the life drawing workshop). I got oriented pretty quickly, found out that a “donkey” is a bench that you straddle that holds your drawing surface at a nice angle, and made my way over to a spot near [ profile] sassy_red_head, only to realize about halfway across the room that carrying a somewhat heavy bench in one hand with your wonky arm isn't a good idea. I got a couple of people to take the things I'd been carrying so I didn't drop them, and got myself straightened out and re-socketed. After that, the night went much better. As an aside, naproxen is my new favourite post-dislocation painkiller.

The actual drawing was in poses of increasing lengths, going from two minutes up to twenty. I'd brought a big 18-by-24 newsprint pad, a smaller sketchbook, compressed charcoal, conté pencil and drawing pencils, but wound up working exclusively big and with the chunkier charcoal and conté: it felt good and I find it's easier to work fast in big movements. I did a lot of contours and work with negative space, some shading and lots of nice dense markmaking. It felt really good, and I think it was pretty different from what everyone else was doing (that I saw, at least). My faces and proportions were hit-and-miss, but I didn't feel like I was starting from zero. I'm going to try and make it to more of these.

I'm not shy to share some drawings, but I'm on my parents' computer in dialup-land while we are visiting them, so I will post them in a few days.

metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)

[ profile] stalkingsilence provided me with seven questions:

What is your current favourite song?
I think "Shake it Out", by Florence + The Machine. It's ludicrously catchy, anyway.
What is your ultiamate comfort food?
Galumptious Mac and Cheese, or maybe a bit too much Bridge Mixture. But there is lots of good comfort food out there, so it is hard to choose.
What book are you currently reading? Or what book would you like to read but haven't yet?
I just finished The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood. It was a fun read; I think the characters were more relatable and had more interesting problems than in Oryx and Crake, but Atwood was still having the same sort of parody-dystopia-building fun.
What's your favourite part of being a dad?
Being a toddler amusement park is pretty fun, and so is realizing that my learning curve is starting to catch up with his (for now).
Favourite Canadian museum that you've visited?
I have a soft spot of the National Gallery. When I didn't live here, I would take a couple of hours to visit it almost every time I came up. I should go back more often now that I live here. It's too bad it isn't free like it used to be — it's a bit of a disincentive, particularly if I may be with an awake toddler with a short attention span, to pay by the visit. Maybe they could charge by the hour!
Describe the best holiday you ever had.
I think our cross-country train trip (wow, I didn't really blog that — here are some pictures, behind Facebook security in Elizabeth's account) may have been a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
What does a typical day off for you look like?
Breakfast could be the usual toast or baked goods, coffee and juice, or Elizabeth might make biscuits or pancakes. I'll manage to get some unstructured time to myself for reading or Internetting while Elizabeth and Oscar take a nap. I'll take Oscar with me on some errands to give Elizabeth a break to practice music. We may go as a family off to some happening out of the house, and we'll almost certainly get some Oscar playtime. I'll catch up on laundry, cat boxes and other chores, and Elizabeth will probably clean a bit and get the dishes under control. It's usually a pretty low-key sort of day off, but it's a nice change of pace.

If you want some questions to get your writing juices flowing, let me know in the comments!

metawidget: Oscar around one month, with Pixel. (oscar and pixel)

I've been really enjoying the arrival of spring. Yesterday, I seeded the garden and ripped out a lot of dead branches from the back yard hedge. I'm a little achy from hauling dead stuff out of the back, but it was definitely worth it. We also took a family 11km-or-so walk involving picking up coffee beans and conversation from Bytown Beanery and supper at So Good — the food was great at So Good as usual, but the parenting advice was a little unrelenting. I think we're more or less at the stage when babysitting seems like an option, between Oscar's more varied diet and his improved capacity to have fun. Baby's first babysitter is in the cards!

In the past month or two, there have been a lot of Baby's firsts:

  • Baby's first flight of stairs climbed (the back steps)
  • Baby's first few mouthfuls of dirt (in the back yard)
  • Baby's first visit to a sugarbush (complete with a bit of tasty pancake)
  • Baby's first concert (this week at Umi)
  • Baby's first junior assistant scrutineer shift (actually coming tomorrow)
  • Baby's first street demonstration
  • There was also baby's first poetry reading in the winter — anyone have a black turtleneck and beret that would fit a 20 pound baby? Gifts of baby Gitanes are not encouraged.

There's almost always something Oscar can try at every meal, now, which is exciting. He likes his bready things, and seems unfazed by a little bit of spice or sour. Steamed rice (at So Good) wasn't such a good idea — most of it wound up all down Mama's left side. We gave him baby corn and broad noodles from the leftovers, though, and he liked those.

A month from now, I'll be back at work on a slightly reduced schedule (yay, family-friendly workplace!). I have mixed feelings about it, but I do miss work and the people there, and also the different time-scale that work-focus operates in. I hope we all adapt to the changed routine — we'll both be working for a total of a little over one full-time job's worth of time, so we'll need to be more efficient (or more likely, adjust some expectations) and Oscar will have to get used to more one-parent-at-a-time time.

metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)

I liked this post about a positive subway experience a lot. The kids are all right :)

I've had couple of interesting beers lately. Both are a little off the beaten path, and both are quite happy to occupy centre stage — dessert or tasting beers, definitely, or your one/first glass of the night.

Traquair Jacobite Ale
This Scotch ale has a beautiful bottle, and is labelled as a flavoured beer. Both Scotch ales and flavoured beers can sometimes hit me over the head in an uninteresting way, but this one, part of a Christmas gift from [profile] the_arachne was definitely ahead of the pack in both genres. It's a dark red beer with a small, middling-thick, persistent head. I tried it after a short time in the fridge (just shy of room temperature). The flavouring here was coriander — not exactly a non-beer flavouring spice, being an ingredient in some white beers and others — and it was nicely balanced with the sweet, malty Scotch ale taste, giving the beer an interesting bite. It is very tasty on its own, but I imagine it would go nicely with buttery cheese like Oka.
L'Aphrodisiaque (Dieu du Ciel!)
Don't let this beer's somewhat silly label dissuade you. L'Aphrodisiaque is a chocolate stout with a hint of vanilla. It has the usual tight, persistent head and is tasty at room temperature, like many stouts. It's got a nice stout-y flavour, with added bitter and cocoa flavours mirroring the natural stout snap, and a whiff of vanilla in the nose and at the back of the mouth. Again, the flavouring doesn't overwhelm the beer, and it tastes like they used good chocolate. This beer is definitely tasty for dessert. It might put you in the mood for good chocolate, but I think it's probably at its best poured into a couple of little glasses and enjoyed unaccompanied.

cross-posted to [community profile] beer4breakfast

metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)

It's been a little while since I've summarized what's up in point form.

  • Healthy
  • Getting the hang of caring for Oscar and being domestic
  • Put down flagstones in the back yard
  • Gathered a bunch of kale seeds for next year
  • Oscar's first overnight trip to my parents' place went well
  • Pretty prints from [ profile] visioluxus arrived in the mail on Tuesday
  • Somehow managed to have seven kinds of cake last weekend, over three fun birthday parties
  • Small bits of preparation for Christmas achieved
  • Visiting J&K (and now R) is always nice — and they always shower us with tasty food.
  • Kind of tired and spacey
  • Missing work a little bit
  • Fussy o'clock seems to be a regular occurrence
  • Rapid-fire wet diapers
  • Joints a little achey

[personal profile] commodorified is already jonesing for Oscar pictures, so here is a new one my mum sent me (from our visit this weekend):
Oscar and his grandpa )

metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Went to the craft fair in Wakefield with Elizabeth today... it was really crowded and chaotic in there, but we did find some promising-looking jams and jelly, and looking around was kind of neat. I ran into one of our client-division people from work, selling her wares, too.

We then wandered into town, chatted up some friendly shopkeepers, and started on a bit of Christmas shopping. Wakefielders seem to be almost universally friendly.

Upon returning home, I made some celery root salad while Elizabeth washed the dishes.

Last night we made some recycled ornaments from aluminum cans. Embossing them with ball-point pens gives a really nice effect.
Aluminum can ornaments: shooting star by me and fish by Elizabeth

A week from tomorrow, I'll be in Peterborough doing a survey. Two weeks from yesterday, Elizabeth will be performing at The Spill in Peterborough, at 3 p.m., and two weeks from today, she'll be doing her thing at Tranzac in Toronto, at 7 p.m. If you're in the area, be there or be square!
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
We had a long weekend!

Thursday to Saturday we had some guests in from Waterloo — a colleague of mine from Concordia and his wife. Catching up was fun, and eating well was fun, too: they took us out to Haveli in the market, which was excellent, and we cooked up a couple of breakfasts and an egg-free vegetarian supper (it turns out that Indian vegetarians tend to shy away from eggs but not dairy products — although the danish blue cheese had them shying away for un-philosophical reasons).

We got supplies for a few improvements around the property on Saturday and used them on Monday: our back stairs are now much less disconcertingly springy, and we have an outdoor compost bin set up with a bunch of yard waste already in there.

Sunday, Elizabeth and I went to see the 1930s exhibit and a bit of the permanent collection at the National Gallery. It's only around one more weekend if you haven't seen it; it was worth a look — disconcerting at times, but it seemed intent on showing the variety of competing viewpoints and currents, and on connecting the art to the history. It was a bit more crowded than I would've liked in there, though. There were some really engaging portraits in the show, both photographic and painted. In the permanent collection, I was thoroughly happy to see Rapide et Dangereux by BGL, after seeing a piece under the stairs to the modern collection by them that was sort of like a sculpture of a storeroom.

The low point of the weekend was wonking my shoulder on Sunday before heading out to the museum — I thought I was done with that!

Now, it's back to work for a short week, and possibly a real piano in the near future...
metawidget: A plastic wind-up teeth thing with a googly eye. (chatter)

In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Stop making silly resolutions.

Get your resolution here.

Elizabeth gave blood yesterday, and I went along as moral support (I miss being able to give, but maybe I'll be able to give again this year sometime)… the wait was pretty long and they offered everyone in the waiting area chocolates from the Laura Secord next door. On the downside, the Radisson Globule is filled with blood-related art and literature. I wouldn't be surprised if they were nudging donors' heart rates and blood pressure up, like here (found in [ profile] montrealais' journal).

My parents gave me a new dresser for Christmas, to replace the older-than-me one I've been using for over 20 years. I assembled it last night, and put it in before going to have some beer and free peanuts with people from Ellie's work. As we were leaving, one of her co-workers, citing 'French humour' asked if “on allait dans la toilette pour faire l'amour.” Hmm.
metawidget: A plastic wind-up teeth thing with a googly eye. (chatter)
Before it's too late, happy International Dadaism Month.

Next day of the month is on Friday.

zimzim urallala zimzim urallala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
The first half of last week involved getting ready for a big night of sponsors, partners and company visiting the lab, then actually doing the night. We got a bunch of interesting and interested visitors: the evening was pretty laid-back, we had more than enough people to greet visitors, and got what I think was a pretty good response. Walking home from that was pretty wet, though: the rain promised most of the week came down in a gigantic dump Wednesday night.

Thursday to Sunday, I travelled to Subtle Technologies with [ profile] rottenfruit. The festival itself was intense: we saw maybe two thirds of the thirty presentations, including some really hardcore chemistry ones, some beautiful art and music ones, and some that were just... weird. Like utility fog, for which I'm now on the beta testers list. We also traded off some of our worldly goods to Nancy Nisbet. [ profile] rottenfruit acquired a negative ion candle and a ceramic vase-y thing, I got a nice bandana. There's now a Handmaden CD and an alarm clock and bus schedule combo in Nisbett's big truck going around the continent.

We also went out to Mississauga to have supper and kick around with my grandfather, aunt, uncle and one cousin, and wandered Kensington Market and Queen Street in the space around the conference. My grandfather's health is not so great, this may be one of the last times I see him. I'm glad he got to meet [ profile] rottenfruit , and that she'll have more than just stories and photographs to know about him from.

We ate amazingly well... our good food sense led us well all weekend: vegetarian sushi on College (with ice cream and hot sake for dessert), amazing smoothies, burgers, fries and peanut sauce, free cookies (with coffee purchase)...

The trip felt a little packed, boxed in by both our work schedules. It's the longest we've taken together yet, though. We missed catching up with a few people (and didn't even attempt that many — too many friendly people in TO, not enough time).

Two days ago, [ profile] rottenfruit's rat Apostrophe died. I felt more involved with Apostrophe than with Kiki, having been the rat-keeper for a week in February and having helped take care of her here and there since. She was energetic and social almost to the end (and had long lost her bite-y streak) and lucky to have such a caring owner.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Got that perl/sh confusion sorted out with some help from [ profile] pphaneuf, [ profile] hub_ and [ profile] swestrup. Thanks, guys! It has resulted in a repackaging of some work stuff so that it doesn't require too much geek-fu to play with.

Godfried Toussaint's rhythm/computation talk on Tuesday was good and pretty well-attended. I hope we can draw more of this kind of thing to Concordia (or that I can get out to see more of it this summer at Subtle Technologies).

I've got lots of work to do, still, but I think I'm getting up a head of steam. Take-home final season starts next week.

I may get off the continent again this summer. Still very up in the air, but we'll see.

Oh, and I just missed International Dadaism Month. No matter, it resumes on Saturday.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Things seem to be working in the getting-me-paid department. I have a loan to call in a chunk of that I still don't know about, but I think the paperwork's all done and settled for everything else on my plate. Things should all be caught up by mid-February (well, chances are I'll still have some chunks to go on the loan-which-won't-die, but everything will be rolling along).

Scrabble yesterday was a bit of a flop... things were slow in coming together with bookings and materials, so we pretty much called it off (but hung around the site to see if anyone turned up)... another contributing factor was that it turns out we were in competition with a literacy conference over at UdeM, so they were probably drawing the literacy crowd as well as not coming down to play with us. More communication next time.

Candide last night at Pollack hall with [ profile] rottenfruit was fun, we were whacked over the head with symbolism and general ribald humour. Voltaire and Bernstein's work was done well by Opera McGill. Go see it if it might be your cup of tea.

Today, people from the CBC and some of our partner organizations came by work for a quick look at us all. I hope they liked it — it felt kind of rushed, though.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I've been programming a lot lately... some Flash/SQL bridging over PHP for The Lies Project, some user-interface widget stuff for the research, some Lisp to get back in the groove for thinking about the Church-Rosser Theorem. Now I'm on to doing grammars on paper for a bit... I've got the dependencies down, this contextual grammar might go down OK after all. Describing how to reproduce the process might be a little hard, though: "scratch this out, stare at stuff, make it right, dammit!"

My apartment situation is a little iffier, apparently the concierge for the place I thought I was moving into has shown the place to another person while I was getting organized... and I thought it was a lease assignment. Boo. Still, anyone who is interested in the place I'm at now: I'd love to hear from you. July occupancy preferred, but flexible. Renewable by arrangement with the landlord.

Work, social life and everything is jam-packed but fun. Grumpy's tonight, after a few hours of work catch-up. Moving and cataloguing equipment at the office tomorrow during the day. Yoga will be very welcome come 5 PM. Frontier meeting with the new Concordia coordinator (well, with two people, one of whom will be named the campus person) and the student organizers for next year on Thursday, delayed housewarming on Friday for a high school friend and his girlfriend. Saturday: Pho Mitzvah block party out East.

Rinse, rearrange, repeat! Victoria Day will be very welcome too. Victoria Day with yoga not cancelled would be even nicer I think.

It's been six months less a day since a long chat in the park turned my world a little bit upside down in a good way.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Been getting going on work and life, shaking out a summer rhythm... not whittling down my research hours at an appropriate pace just yet, but that will (have to) come as I get organized and settled in. Packing and inventorying the rest of this week, I think -- partly because time is running out and partly because it's nice routine labour.

Went to see the Becket show with Elizabeth, my sister and her boyfriend on the weekend... it was cheesy and thin on the plot but it had some funny moments, it was for a good cause, and it was interesting to see the show that had owned a share of Elizabeth's soul all winter and spring.

Came home for mother's day, and we converged on Alexandria to concentrate as many mothers from my mom's side of the family in one place as possible. There was lots of food, and us older kids kept tabs on the younger kids as we took a constitutional walk around a farm my cousin has put an offer on.

This week so far, I've debriefed with Matt on this year's run of 256, programmed, met with Emily about Lies revisited (watching the other programmer work is like having an out-of-body experience: we have the same cycle and rhythm, narrate debugging the same way, gesture the same... all he needs is more hair and no glasses... that's ME you're being there, except in PHP instead of ActionScript! Stop it!), practiced yoga, tried to straighten out a two month overlap between leases, and talked and written about relationshippy stuff (as an interested party and a disinterested adviser/sounding board) with a few people. And it's only Wednesday. Somehow I still feel like I'm only getting up to speed.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
First, the Human Centred Software Engineering folks at Concordia are looking for Montreal arty types (gallery-goers, artists, enthusiasts, keen observers, etc.) to help improve the hardware setup for Char Davies' Osmosis. You'll get to do a tour of the original piece and give feedback. Comment here and I'll pass your info along, or e-mail Yojana yourself and volunteer: y_joshi AT

Second, I have an apartment (x-posted [ profile] montreal) that I'd like to assign to someone for July... a good home looking for some people:

It's a 4 1/2 on the 4th floor of an established building on Ste Catherine and Kensington (90/24 buses, Atwater and Lionel Groulx metros), suitable for three cozy people and a cat, or two people who like a living room. Heat's included (steam radiators), hardwood floors, big windows in all the rooms, laundry in the basement, 4th floor with roof access. Pets OK, lots of closet space, real kitchen with space for a small dining room table.

The rent right now is $1112, with the lease turning over September 1st. So... it's a fine summer assignment, or we can renew and assign it to you to keep.

I need to know soon whether to renew and assign or terminate the lease, so please let me know if interested. Comment or e-mail ehortop AT
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Got in some writing, some walking and some consulting yesterday... I'm holding off really diving into work until next week, but things are spinning up to speed. Today: UI, scanning, more report, then the Frontier end-of-year dinner. New routine with FC office hours and yoga and research office hours starts next week. Time to start waking up early again.

Consulting was for Emily Hermant's Lies Project, which was fun the first time 'round at Christmas, and whose upgrades should be fun this time 'round, too. Everything else is for my collectively held baby, the shape grammar stuff. It's a problem child sometimes, but I love it anyway.

I'm finally going to get my B.A. diploma framed, before something dumb happens to it.

One response on the call for interviews... five questions, people. Do your worst!
Interview with the femiwhat )
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Gave blood yesterday at the Guides clinic at Victorial Hall, tenth time (total, not at VH). Was guided through the first part by an, erm, efficient nurse, but I bled good and fast and things went off without a hitch. Recovery time was watched over by a very attentive brownie leader. Wandered over to my brother's place and managed to stay ahead in the win/loss records in Soul Calibur, dodging my usual whuppage. Followed up hanging around and geeking it up at Stuart's.

A couple of days ago, I got to play around in Char Davies' Osmosis as a hardware tester — there's a group at Concordia working to improve the head mounted display, and they pulled together a bunch of volunteers to float, lean, twist and breathe their way through the piece, paying attention to responsiveness and comfort. It was a little dated, but really interesting.

The work schedule is coming together, the beginning of May is going to be lots of planning (no travels as we'd thought) and getting everyone on the same wavelength with respect to grammars. I never know how a summer will go, but we'll have another pair of co-op students coming in and some priorities laid down, so we'll see.


metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
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