Thoughty Thursday: Popping your mental corn, June 19-25, 2022

It’s the last thoughty Thursday of June! Early happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends and early happy Independence Day to my friends south of the border.

Mon M: the Uvalde shooting is just the latest example of why we need abolition. Prism

Jia Tolentino says America’s not going back to the time before Roe. We’re going somewhere worse. The New Yorker

Vanessa Taylor explains why Muslim teens love surveillance memes. Teen Vogue

Max Hunder and Tom Balmforth: Ukraine to withdraw from Sievierodonetsk as Russia closes in. Reuters

Laurentian gets court approval to sell the Art Gallery of Sudbury. They haven’t said what they’re doing with the art collection. Yet. CBC

Frances Solá-Santiago wonders what’s really behind TikTok’s “weird girl aesthetic”? Refinery 29

Why you can’t smell yourself (and other ways your senses lie to you). Be Smart

Clark Quinn is all about reality checks. Learnlets

Danielle D. King and Megan R. McSpedon explain what leaders get wrong about resilience. Harvard Business Review

Guy Kawasaki interviews Gloria Romero, former senator, author, and feminist. The Remarkable People Podcast

Rina Torchinsky says, get your binoculars: five planets are lined up nicely for you to see at dawn this month. NPR

“Do fabulous science”: Jane Rigby. SciShow Space

Robert Lea: fastest nova ever seen “rings” like a bell thanks to feeding white dwarf.

Nina Lakhani introduces us to the farmers restoring Hawaii’s ancient food forests that once fed an island. The Guardian

Olivia Box spotlights improving communications around climate change. JSTOR Daily

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and I hope you took away something to inspire a future creative project.

This weekend, I hope to post my June next chapter update (we’ll see how that works out).

Until then, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Caturday Quickies: The Sulphur III launch reading

Last night, I attended the launch reading for Sulphur, Laurentian University’s Literary Journal, issue III.

Natalie and Kevin

Natalie and Kevin

I’d been invited by 100 thousand poets for change alums Natalie and Kevin.  Natalie had a couple of poems accepted to the journal.

Also in attendance were Kim Fahner (in support of a published colleague) and Louise and Paulette, two of my former collaborators on the Battle Chant project.  Paulette also had a poem in the issue.

The event took place at The Little Montreal in downtown Sudbury and featured many lovely

Paulette and Louise

Paulette and Louise

poets and a selection from a play, another publishing first for Sulphur.

It was a lovely evening and I enjoyed reconnecting with my fellow writers.  Though Tom Leduc was there as a representative of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, several others who had been published in Sulphur III were absent, which was regrettable.

Me and Kim with Paulette and Louise

Me and Kim with Paulette and Louise

Thinkin’ thoughts

There was a little discussion about the relative merits of the arts community in Sudbury, and frankly, I think it’s doing just fine.  It could be better promoted, certainly, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, per se.

It’s long been held that Sudbury, essentially a blue collar town, doesn’t appreciate its artists.  Can I call shenanigans on that one?

There are artistic enclaves all over town: several centered on out institutions of higher learning, the Theatre Centre, several other community theatres, our small presses, the Art Gallery of Sudbury, the Sudbury Arts Council, the Sudbury Public Library, institutions like the Townehouse Tavern, and organizations like the Sudbury Writers’ Guild and the Sudbury Hypergraphic Society.  Several area high schools also produce excellent writers, musicians, and artists every year.

The concern is that many of these organizations, institutions, businesses, and services become insular over time.  When I sat down with Hally Willmott last weekend, she hadn’t been aware of the SWG or that there were any writers groups in town.

It’s not that we don’t talk to one another, attend each others’ various events, or try to cross-promote.  It’s certainly not that none of us have established web presences or hold community events like readings, workshops, concerts, art shows, or plays.  I know that each party does its best to advertise its presence and services and to promote any special events through various media, both traditional and online.

What the heck is it then?  Why doesn’t Sudbury claim its artists and arts community proudly?  I have no idea.

For the average Sudburian, it comes down to participation.  You get what you give.  You have the arts community you help to create.

You must, of course, take this with a grain (or handful) of salt as it comes from someone who hardly makes it out to SWG meetings and is very far behind in her critiquing duties for her guildies.

I say none of this to disparage current efforts, which I know are significant, or any of the organizations or businesses, which I know are doing the best they can.  Ultimately, I have no solution, but I wanted to highlight what some consider a problem in the hope of provoking thoughtful consideration of the matter.

Got thoughts?  By all means, share ‘em!

Writer-tech: Asus Transformer and Samsung Galaxy Note II

I’ve always been a bit of a technophile.  I think it comes from the fact that Phil is computer-dude supreme, a genius even, or, as one of our friends once called him, an ass in jeans 🙂  I like to joke that I learn things from him through osmosis.  I’m fairly certain that if it weren’t for Phil, that I’d still be tech-clueless and likely in a lot sorrier shape than I am now.

I’m still tentative about some things though, and learning something new in the technical realm that I’m not particularly motivated to learn can still stress me out.

Once upon a time …

In another life (that’s how long ago it was), I had an interest in creating Web pages, and with Phil’s help, I learned how to do basic HTML scripting, you know, the kind that you had to type out in Wordpad, tags and all?  I’d do my own graphics too, real basic stuff, that I’d put together in a freeware imaging editor that I no longer remember the name of.  I use The Gimp now 🙂

I did a few Web pages for some of my employers at the time: Huntington University, The Art Gallery of Sudbury, and ACCUTE (the association of Canadian college and university teachers of English).  Eventually, I graduated to Microsoft FrontPage, but I couldn’t compete with the new Web page design companies that were plentiful even in a place like Sudbury.

I maintained listservs too, and brought at least one employer into the world of Yahoo! Groups, then the only game in town, so to speak.

Enough of my techie history though.  I just wanted to give you some perspective, and to set the stage for my next revelation.

Let’s do the Time Warp!

Fast forward a few years and here I am happily writing away with a desktop, laptop, and USB keys to affect file transfers.  I was a confirmed bibliophile too, lived the smell and the feel of books, and didn’t want to enter the world of ereaders even after Phil bought one (a Kobo, by the way).  As Rupert Giles said to Jenny, knowledge should be … smelly.

I’d started my blog, been hacked, restarted my blog and was on a dedicated mission to build my platform.  I didn’t even understand what that was to begin with; I just know that I should have one.

My phone was what I affectionately called a “dumb” phone.  It was the dumbest I could find when my contract came up.  Called the Doro phone, it was marketed at seniors 😛 with a big number pad and no camera on board.  I had a digital camera.  I didn’t think I’d ever have need for anything else.  I just wanted to be able to make a phone call, and to receive one, maybe text a friend every once in a while.

Then things changed

I got tired of the dumb phone and its limitations, of paying more than half of what my friends were for their I-phones and Blackberries.  As my shelves were quickly filled with paper books, I began to see the benefits of an ereader.

Phil had given his Kobo to his mom and purchased an ASUS Transformer.  He began to use it every night, reading books off Project Gutenberg, comics, and even watching Netflix in bed.  I began to see the attraction.

So, I bought my own ASUS Transformer, and I love it!Transformer1

First, it was super easy to set up and learn how to use.  I was downloading apps from the first day.  There’s more than enough space on the dear little thing to keep me happy for a long time.

Second, it has a suppementary keyboard attachment which extends the battery life, memory, and data ports, as well as helping to protect your investment.

I have access to internet, email, all of my social media, WordPress, and just about anything else I’d want.  The only down side is that it’s not so easy taking my writing on the road.  Polaris Office doesn’t do a bad job, but there are some features that I’ve just gotten used to in Microsoft Word that Polaris doesn’t understand or offer.

Dropbox has the potential to replace my USB though 🙂

transformer2I also have, with the tablet, not only Kobo’s, but Amazon’s app too, so now I can read whatever I want wherever I want 🙂  I also have news, comics, and other readers, so I’m pretty much loaded for bear.

Plus, it has a camera/video recorder with voice recording too!  Can my dreams of podcasting and vlogging be far off?

The Transformer’s all but made my laptop (and my camera) obsolete.  Who knew that an upgrade could actually lead to an overall reduction in the amount of tech I own/use?

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

(The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

Around my birthday last year, I had done a lot of word-of-mouth research, asking friends and coworkers about the kinds of smart phones they had, about their service providers, and contracts.  How much were they paying a month and what were they getting for the price?

I’d had my eye on the Galaxy Note since Guy Kawasaki reviewed his purchase of one.  I looked up every review and the worst anyone had to say about it was that it was a little big.  Big whoop, I thought, I’ve got decent-sized hands.

As serendipity would have it, my service provider sent an upgrade offer to my email.

Phil, who used to have his own cell phone, then tired of it, had been forced back into a contract by his employer.  Then, as a cost-saving measure, his employer introduced a cost-sharing program, whereby Phil could get his own phone again, and his employer refund him for part of the monthly cost by way of compensation for using the service for work purposes.

So when I mentioned the upgrade offer, and that I was seriously considering the Galaxy Note II, it was perfect-tech-storm time 🙂

Galaxy1We went out and got ourselves a couple of Galaxy Note II’s that weekend.

Phil now uses his note to read/watch movies in bed 🙂  It’s lighter than the Transformer, even without the keyboard.  We have a wireless network at home and Phil has one at work, so we’re going to downgrade his data plan.  He almost never has to use LTE at all.

I’ve found it a boon because I can keep track of my email and SoMe notifications at work and better manage the time I spend online in the evenings.  I haven’t yet graduated to using it to create blog posts at lunch or anything, but I can see that happening in the future.

It’s essentially a tablet with a phone and text capability.  Because it’s an Android, like my tablet, I can have all the apps I have on my tablet on my phone too.  Many of them will even sync up.

I love the stylus feature though.  Included in the Galaxy Note II’s applications is a note suite galaxy2which has everything from basic notes, to meeting minutes, mind-mapping tools, financial planning notes, greeting card creation notes, drawing apps, etc.  I haven’t explored these thoroughly yet, but I have used it for shopping lists, to do lists, and reminders.

galaxy3You can simply write on your note, or use the text conversion feature to change your handwriting to text.  It works great for me.  It’s only messed up once, when I was demonstrating the feature to a friend.  I can definitely see this replacing my journal some day, but I still have about 10 or so paper journals to write through first.

I’m not an early adopter

For some things, I’m the first person to take an interest and conquer the new tech.  This happens most often in my day-job.  In general, I’m not the first person to pick up the latest technology.  I like to wait until the manufacturer has worked out the bugs and someone else has tested the product first, often Phil.

I haven’t been very quick on the uptake with respect to all the writerly apps I can make use of on my tablet and phone either.  I’ve barely scratched the surface, so I’ll leave you with a few sites I found that were very helpful to me in selecting the best apps for my droid.

I hope this post will be useful to those of you considering a tablet or smart phone.

Tomorrow, there will be a brief pupdate.  Come on back now, ya hear 😉

La Cloche Spirit: The Equivalent Light

This afternoon, for a creative date, I treated myself to Jon Butler’s exhibit at the Living with Lakes Centre, La Cloche Spirit: The Equivalent Light.  I did some visiting with the photographer and some of my friends from the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, did some Christmas shopping, and generally had a lovely time.

Jon’s exhibit remains at the Living with Lakes Centre through to Friday, November 30, 2012.  Go consume the visuals.  They are eminently tasty 🙂

The photograph that lent its name to the exhibit is, I think, my favourite.  A thick fog rolls over the mountains, pools between them, as the sun rises through clouds, casting a purple strier effect across the sky.  Against the shadows of further mountains, two wisps of fog chase one another, the lead one almost looking as if it has a head.

If I had enough disposable income to blow, I’d be installing the mounting hardware about now and ‘La Cloche Spirit’ would be hanging in my office in short order.

I first heard of Jon a number of years ago, through my SWG friend Vera Constantineau.  She and Jon worked together on an ekphrastic collaboration for the Manitoulin Writers’ Circle’s Cross-Pollination project.   She’s since teamed up with Jon again, and here are the wonderful results.

The two photographs reminded Vera of her family with the right number to reflect her aunts and uncles.  Her poems, entitled “The Boys” and “The Girls” were inspired by Jon’s photography.  “The Girls” has subsequently been published in The Antigonish Review.

Jon does a little of his own ekphrasis too.  In these two photographs, he’s written haiku on birch bark and inserted them into the frame.

In addition to the framed photographs, art cards are available for purchase, and Ian Tamblyn’s Willisville Mountain CD, also inspired by Jon’s work.

Apparently only a few copies of his coffee table book of photography remain at the Art Gallery of Sudbury, so if you’re in the market for a lovely Christmas gift, hit the AGS before they’re all gone.

It’s well worth your while to visit the exhibit, even if it’s only to gaze longingly at and be inspired by Jon’s beautiful photography.  Of course, you can also visit his web site or find him on Facebook if you want to know more about Jon and his work.

There’s still time if you want an evocative and uniquely northern Christmas gift 🙂


One of the contests I entered while I was struggling through grad school was for the League of Canadian Poets.  Through that competition, one of my poems was selected for publication in the 1997 (W)rites of Spring.

I read at their gala (with Valerie Senyk, Roger Nash, Sonja Dunn, Katerina Fretwell, and others) and subsequently submitted my poetry to Dr. Laurence Steven, who was now the proud owner of Your Scrivener Press.  He accepted my work and along with the work of two other northeastern Ontario poets, Monique Chenier and Natalie Wilson, he published NeoVerse (1999).

It stood for northeastern Ontario verse, but in a way, it was the beginning of a whole new life for me creatively.

I traveled all over the north giving readings that year: North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, and Parry Sound.  Due in part to my reading activity, I was invited to participate in an event in Caledon called Word Harvest, where several other poets were performing.

Thanks to the publication of my poetry in chapbook form, I was able to become an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets.

Also around that time, I was writing articles for the Sudbury Arts Council (SAC) in the Sudbury Star, after having served on the newspaper’s readers board for a term; I wrote interviews for the Laurentian University Alumni Magazine, and articles for Georgian Bay Today.  GBT didn’t last long.  The way I was to be paid was to sell advertising to local retailers.  I was not then, nor am I now, a salesperson, by any stretch of the imagination.

I put together a few workshops for elementary and high schools, and even one for the Manitoulin Writers’ retreat.

I was also putting together Web pages for the Huntington University Library and for the Art Gallery of Sudbury.  This was the old-fashioned (ha!), type-your-tags-out-in-Wordpad, HTML Web pages.  Eventually I adopted Microsoft FrontPage.

I started to write reviews for the Canadian Book Review Annual, took another short-term contract at the Cambrian College Library, and then two of my Laurentian professors contacted me with an offer of employment.  It would only be a part-time contract, but I could be the executive assistant for an organization called ACCUTE, the association of Canadian college and university teachers of English.

There, I developed another Web site, published the quarterly newsletter, and helped to coordinate their annual conference.

My first year with ACCUTE I did the crazy and auditioned for Theatre Cambrian’s production of Hair.  It was hard work.  Dancing, singing, and acting.  It was also one of the most fun, most amazing experiences of my life.

How about you?  Was there a time in your life when you became creatively fecund? What happened?  If you’re blogging about it, link through in your comments.  I’d love to see what you’ve been up to 🙂

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