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Archive for May, 2013

We play all the big ones!

Last weekend, we – as in the Big Sky Gliders – had the opportunity to play at the Springboard Hoedown. This festival takes place annually (this is their 11th!) in the Pinevalley Community Hall, north and east of Athabasca, Alberta.

Sign

Not hard to find … if you knew where to look!

It is about a two hour drive north of Edmonton to get there. We arrived around supper and the surprise was our start time – we were going to close down the place – going on at 11:00. We were treated to supper and then settled in to watch the evening’s entertainment. I think we were impressed. The acts ranged from a great solo singer-songwriter from Fort McMurray – Ken Flaherty – to an 11 piece jazz group called the Swing Cats Orchestra. We got on to the stage just about right on time.

The Big Sky Gliders on stage at the Springboard Hoedown

The Big Sky Gliders on stage at the Springboard Hoedown

And we had a great time. I don’t think we were “on” musically as we can be, but we had fun and the audience seemed to have a good time. The first thing we were asked when we finished was, “do you want to come back next year” – to which we replied that we would love to.

Preforming "Ernest and Lucy" - the song with the trickiest lyrics of all.

Preforming “Ernest and Lucy” – our song with the trickiest lyrics of all.

So finishing at midnight, it was time to pack up and head home. Living in the city, you forget about darkness sometimes. The moon had already set and it was DARK – and I loved it. The stars were out, the frogs and crickets were singing away and I enjoyed just taking some time to take in the surroundings. Luckily, there is a Husky service station in Athabasca that is open 24/7, so we fuelled up with coffee and drove home. Made it back around 2:30 after an uneventful drive. We didn’t get paid and didn’t sell any CDs but that didn’t really matter at the end. We met a lot of nice people who were there to make music and have fun – not much else to ask for in my opinion.

Loading up in the dark after the gig

Loading up in the dark after the gig

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By training, I am a geographer. That is sort of hard to pin down, but there is an element of generalist in the position. One my professors in undergraduate used to say there are only three main disciplines – geography, the study of space, history – the study of time and mathematics – the study of the abstract. Everything else flows from those three.

Google Earth was the most amazing web tool that I could imagine and many an hour has been spent searching the globe from my desktop. A couple of days ago, I stumbled across a game that someone has made using Google Earth Street View, called GeoGuessr – http://geoguessr.com/.

It is simple but brilliant. You are given a Google Earth Street View scene and you have to guess where it is. And you get points for how close you are to the actual spot. Nothing more, nothing less. But this is geography heaven. You can move around in Street View, but you can’t zoom out to see where you are. I have shared this with a couple of friends and they have all come back and said it is addicting. So to whoever came up with this one – well done!

BTW … my high score is currently 18260.

GeoGuessr

 

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Not too many books to report upon this time. I enjoy biographies and about two months ago I thought I would tackle William Manchester‘s biography of Winston Churchill (I went to high school at Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute – Go Bulldogs!).

I got through the first volume (of three) but it took weeks. Manchester’s work, The Last Lion – Visions of Glory 1874 – 1932, was almost 1,000 pages in print. But it was a worthwhile read. Churchill was an extraordinary person – I was really only familiar with his involvement in the Second World War. His early life as a correspondent and army officer was filled with adventures all over the world. What I enjoyed about the biography was that Manchester did not only focus on Churchill but gave a broad context for the man and his actions. In these days of instant communication, I found it interesting that people like Churchill could make a good living (and Churchill was certainly gifted in his use of the English language) by writing about events in far places – even if it took weeks and months to reach readers in the homeland. From the accounts, Churchill was certainly opinionated but had a broad vision of events that allowed him to see developing patterns that others seemed to miss. At the end of the book, Manchester writes of Churchill’s concern about the rise of Hitler in Germany – and this before 1930.

It is not an easy or quick read, but I have no hesitation in recommending the book to anyone interested in Churchill or the world he lived in and helped to shape.

As I mentioned, I was a little burnt from the length of the Churchill biography. But, in looking for something a little lighter, I stumbled upon Nick Mason‘s autobiography called Inside Out. Mason is the drummer for Pink Floyd – one of my favourites from my youth. It wasn’t as insightful as the Churchill biography but as a quick read, I found it fun. Mason writes with a very dry English wit and while there isn’t a lot of depth, the book maps out the beginnings of the band and all the trials they went through to become the supergroup they became. If you are into Floyd, I would recommend the book as a nice overview of the group and their music.

Now on to summer reading!

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