The Alder Grove

"In my sleep thought that I was standing in an alder grove of the straightest and fairest trees which the heart of man could think of or imagine."

Getting To Know You...

I am hoping that now that I've done a refresh on this blog, I will now keep it going better than it has in the past. Perhaps with the new year past on Samhain I'll endeavor to do better! Readership from the past, small as it was has likely moved on from the days when I relocated here from LiveJournal. Ah, the 90's. ;-) So, in the interest of potential new readership I will introduce myself.

Hello new reader...I'm Leanne. Please to meet you. As you can see from my profile I'm a left-wing Canadian socialist-type from Ontario, Canada. As the saying goes, I don't live in the sticks but you can see them from here, lol. I'm also a Pagan-Atheist - meaning that I hold the natural world as sacred and spiritual but not any sort of personal deity. I do find beauty in the literature of mythology but that's about as far as that goes. I have an interest in various aspects of politics varying from food security and preservation of local/native food sources, the advocacy of science literacy and the promotion of the local arts and culture scene. Nearly everyone that I am friends with is a musician of sorts. Explains why I'm still single...

What else? Graduated high school (by some sort of fluke as I rarely actually attended) in 1989. The 80s were fairly awesome, between the summer I followed Glass Tiger around Ontario to seeing David Bowie in concert at the old CNE bandstand, there was a hell of a lot of music happening. Truth be told, I was a bit of a flake in high school/college. But then, so were the majority of people I went to school with. It was the 80s....we were pretty self-involved. The whole decade was pretty much all about music, weird clothes and The Brat Pack.

I'm also a massive bookworm and I always have been. I think that people who don't love to read are mentally unbalanced. Last year I had to do a book purge as I likely had enough books to start my own library. I took six plastic containers to the used bookstore with everything from a bunch of sci-fi/fantasy that I used to read in high school (like pretty much all of David Eddings books and the entire Dragons of Pern series) to books based on TV shows like Buffy and Queer Eye For the Straight Guy. Now I am building up my book collection again with things that are my new interests and my bookcase is once again bulging at the seams. Good thing I have another one to put together once I finish redoing the basement because I am shortly going to need the space. There is nothing that makes my day more complete than settling down before bed with a good book, a cup of tea and some nice classical music. Yes, I'm old. Be quiet. :)

Orillia has, well, a shallow gene pool. I've got a portion of my ancestry that has been here pretty much since there has been a city. Stimulating conversation is not something that happens frequently. So as a result, I don't tend to date much. Or at all really. The only hobby most people have here is getting drunk. And that is basically all they talk about - getting drunk, having been drunk and plans to get drunk in the future. And since I drink very, very infrequently it does not hold much appeal. Plus, most people here have really lousy taste in music and are not the most literate people I have every had the occasion to have a words with. It's a fairly Presbyterian place with more than our share of young-earthers which makes me borderline *insane*. I enjoy men who are passionate about something and that I can actually carry on an intelligent conversation about something of interest. And no, sports does NOT count.

I have recently become increasingly enamoured of various science topics and the rather dashing and charming men who are out there crusading for science literacy. Yes, nerd-crushes. Why the hell not? Smart, handsome, passionate and excessively well-spoken scientists. Hell yeah....sign me up!

First - The man whom I hold responsible almost entirely for my current fascination for all things science. Granted, I remember Carl Sagan a bit but I was only like 9 or 10 when the originally Cosmos aired and I did not have control over the remote control back then. But when Neil deGrasse Tyson entered the scene, that got my attention. Are you kidding, how could he not??? Look at him! You should not be allowed to look like that, be built like a football player *and* be that smart and articulate. He is the director of the Hayden Planetarium in NYC and hosts the show StarTalk on both radio and TV. Not to mention the reboot he did of the original Cosmos. And he's friends with Bill Nye The Science Guy. Enough said.
Next we have Brian Greene
He's a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and has just started a learning platform called World Science U that I mentioned in a previous post. The only man who could actually make me want to learn math. In my entire life, there is no one who could EVER make me willingly want to learn math. But then along comes Mr. Boyishly Handsome and suddenly...there's me with a pen, paper and a calculator. Dammit. He also co-founded The World Science Festival that I'm attending in June when I go to NYC. He is also co-director of the Columbia's Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics where he specializes in superstring theory.

Next could conceivably be one of my favourite people on the planet. Sexy, smart, hilariously funny, charming in his own unique way and to call him passionate about science would likely be an understatement. Lawrence M. Krauss was born in NYC but grew up in Canada before moving back to the States where he is currently at Arizona State University as Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Department as well as the director of the Origins Project. He's got more awards, recognitions, published works and books than I could even begin to put in a blog post (don't be lazy, go look them up...he's *everywhere*). I have enjoyed his rather rambunctious friendship with Richard Dawkins that has even been documented in a movie called "The Unbelievers" where they are attempting to promote science literacy and demonstrate that organized religion is ridiculous in the process. Sometimes by being funny and charming, occasionally by telling people what they believe is idiocy and once in a while, by being a delightfully and moderately cranky curmudgeon (usually that is saved for a particular religious moron that will not be named here).
Lastly, I have to give a shout out to his partner-in-crime Richard Dawkins. Brilliant British ethologist and evolutionary biologist, an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008. He has written acres of books although his best known are probably "The God Delusion" and "The Selfish Gene". Likely, one of the best known atheists around (aside from the late Christopher Hitchens), he has founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. And he's awesome. :)

And on that note, I will wrap this up for now. Lots more to come as I strive to be a better blogger as we rapidly approach 2016 and the new adventures, and the regular everyday life, that awaits. And I leave you with a bit of my photography, both taken at Couchiching Beach Park at sunset a while back.

Later taters,

~~ L.

Renew and Reset

If it should come to pass that anyone is actually still reading my blog after all the years I've been on will notice that the archive has been removed. In place of setting up a whole new blog, I've decided to clear it out. Over the last few years my view on the world has gradually been altering, though I have not really expressed it much on here. Here. it's been mostly just the same sort of thing that I used to post about back in the LiveJournal days. Fine for what it was, some of the stuff about the trips was fun but it's time to start anew.

I've left up the last couple of entries from this year, starting with losing one of our Toronto crew and her memorial. But going forward now, I'll be posting about the new things that have entered my life - new music, sexy and brilliant scientists, new friends and new adventures. We'll talk crazy politics, new organizations that I've gotten involved in and the general nuttiness that is life.

Much more to come...stay tuned.

“There is something pagan in me that I cannot shake off. In short, I deny nothing, but doubt everything.” -- Lord Byron

A word from the geekdom

Seriously, how the hell does Brian Greene make MATH look like fun??? All he has to do is look into that camera, put on that smile and I am with a pencil in hand doing equations again. We'll see what kind of a grasp I have on this business as we go along in finishing the Special Relativity course on World Science U. I also need to squeeze in some time for Climate Change and Public Health on the Coursera platform. Plus, I just picked up the new book by Bill Nye and an older one of Lawrence Krauss' called "Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed" which I cannot wait to dive into.

The book list on the blog has been completely updated and revamped in its current home as a Google doc as it looks like the old site is never going to come back online. So, no more playing with the html over there. :( I have to tackle the full updates on the music and movie pages yet but they are a way bigger task (especially since the vinyl has been growing). I'll have to work away on that after the holiday rush is over.

Oh!! I've decided that I am FINALLY going back to NYC on vaca next year because....I want to go the World Science Festival!! This time for *sure* I am hitting the American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium. I really, really want to see the Dark Universe show there. It's gonna be a nerd-fest and I can't wait!!

Enough math for one night...time for a hot bath and to crack open a brand new book!

Picking up the threads

So, I've been neglecting the blog as of late and it occurs to me that I have not been using it to discuss all of my interests. I will endeavor to correct that with upcoming posts. I have also been lax about titling the posts which is silly as I never had that issue when I had the Queen's Musick blog (sad that it has vanished). And how is it that my other blogger account is gone when my LiveJournal account is still active?!?!

But, as usual, I digress. :)

Those who know me know that I have a long-standing science crush on Neil deGrasse Tyson. Who doesn't?? However...Dr. Tyson has recently been getting some competition in that area. I've known about Brian Greene for a while now from various panel discussions I've seen with Lawrence M. Krauss and the Origins Initiative. But I never had a true appreciation for him and not only his wonderful teaching method but his unexpected sense of humour until lately. It's been creeping up on me since the "Storytelling of Science" panel and later when I saw the clip of StarTalk live with Neil and Brian reenacting a scene from "Gravity" to explain a rather large mistake in the ending. Then, a couple of months ago, I signed up with his site World Science U for his course on Special Relativity. I did the conceptual part, got the certificate and potentially wrapped my brain around the whole weird idea that comes with it. And now? I'm doing the math portion.

I do not do complex math for just anyone. But there's Brian with his whole, "I hope you will at least try the math version of the course" business. Have I mentioned that he's handsome and has a really nice smile? Yeah, fine. So here I am doing equations. Well, he's doing equations and I am attempting to wrap my brain around math that's more difficult to understand than the special relativity is. I am struck with both the wish that I had taken physics in high school and remembering WHY I did not take physics in high school.

But, I persevere and will eventually come to understand this whole least a little bit.

Saying Goodbye

So, this week we gathered to say final goodbyes and to celebrate the life of my friend Saburah. She was the strongest person I've ever known and if you have ever met her, you know this to be true. She was fun and, we've had some fun. She never talked about her health and I never asked. She was just Saburah, who was always on the go and never let anything get in her way. I met her first online, part of the Moxy Fruvous (Fruhead) community. In person for the first time in Toronto when Dave Matheson from the band was playing a solo gig for his album back in 2001. We loved the same music and later on, would get together for good food at various Winter/Summerlicious events. (I always know the places to eat, lol). Even when we didn't make plans to get together, somehow I would always run into her on the street. I'd be coming or going from the hostel on Church Street....and there's Saburah. Everytime we'd manage to get together for coffee or something while I was in the city, even if it was just before the bus left.

I remember so many things. All the time we bugged Dave (he loved it, don't kid yourself), all The Supers shows we went to, being part of Swinghammer's Bitches (we really should have made tshirts), the emotional night we had when they closed down Nia...but most of all, I remember that GBS show not that long ago. We planned it for *weeks*. Saburah knew we would all get up front due to her mobility scooter so we plotted what we could do to hassle Murray who had just started playing bass in the band. Rumour had it of some good-natured hassling by the band so we thought we would contribute. She had thought of making tshirts and we talked about it and came up with going to the running Murray joke of "Way to go Murray!" shirts. I had mentioned something for the back and together we went with "Bass and Whistle Tour '97". Reactions on stage were priceless with me, Sab and Drea all decked out. (Afterwards, Drea and I got a little more use out of them by going to see Tory Cassis at the Reservoir Lounge. He's a good friend of Murray's and was grinning when he walked over. We told him about the show and got a "you went wearing those?!?" reaction. We told him Saburah had them made and he was less than surprised, lol.)

It was a beautiful service at the Spiral Garden, a place she had a significant attachment to. I caught up with a friend that I haven't seen in years and it sucks that it sometimes takes an event like this to bring you back in touch with people. So many lovely and emotional words were spoken by her family and those who knew her, especially when she was younger. I was so incredibly touched that Murray and Mike from the band came to the service. If it were not for them, she would never have been part of my life. Post-Fruvous their projects were a lot of the events that she and I would go to and talk about. She adored both of them so much and the fact that they cared enough to come and say goodbye to her, says everything about the person she was and the type of men that they are. So worthy of their dedicated (and possibly slightly crazy) followings. There was a lot of music at the service which was fitting and the guys sang a tune which she would have loved. She touched so many people in her short time with us.

After the service, I talked to Murray and Mike. Mur was his usual steadfast self but I could tell that Mike was a little teary. So was I. I mentioned that this would have been a moment where Saburah and I would have gone for coffee. Not sure how to deal with my now loose ends in Toronto. Just seemed....sort of empty knowing there are no more coffee dates and no more Winterlicious lunches with my friend.

I headed out to get back around the bus depot area and to do some contemplating. I swung by where Nia used to be and thought about all the fun we had there. Went by some of our usual Queen Street spots just feeling a little down and finally decided to get some dinner before I had to get on the bus. So I headed down to Yonge and Dundas. I had totally forgotten it was Buskerfest. I was struck by how appropriate it was since it was a band of buskers that brought Sab into my life in the first place. This could not possibly have been more apropos. I can across this awesome group called The Love Orchestra and their "vehicle", The Zeus Mobile. They were crazy and awesome with a kind of junkmobile meets middle eastern music meets hippy theatre...and Saburah would have thought they were cool I think. It was the most wonderful and mood-changing experience (I could have spent the entire day right there in that spot). They turned my entire day around and I of course put a bill in the tip tin. The wacky singer bowed and thanked me. I thanked her in return. She has no idea what a blessing their music was for me tonight.

I am so blessed with amazing friendships in my life. And I, like most, do not tell them often enough how much their friendship and the goofy things that we have done, have meant to me. Everyone of them has a special moment in my heart.

Blessed Be.