Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: The Bees

Book club chose "First Book by New Author" as this month's "genre". This was, as usual, a fun one to find a book to match. I settled on The Bees after reading it was like Watership Down (which I enjoyed reading a couple times as a teenager, and should probably read as an adult to actually understand the allegories), but with bees. I have a thing for bees right now - meaning as Edmonton develops it's beekeeping bylaws, I'm thinking about getting bees for my garden. I don't really want to keep hives, but I'm willing to have hives in my backyard if someone else will keep them for me (think of it as a land rental arrangement). Or, I've started researching Mason bees as and option. And I'm going to plant more bee friendly plants next summer at least. So I figured this book would maybe help me learn a bit more about our favourite honey makers.

January 2015: New Author First Book

The Bees
By Laline Paull
340 pages

This novel follows the life of Flora 717, a worker bee born into the Sanitation caste of the Orchard Hive. But Flora is different right from the start, and through a series of events, manages to work her way up from Sanitation crew, to Nurse, to Forager. Besides her size and appearance and job swapping abilities, Flora has another secret, one which no one can learn because it's a direct violation of the Queen's laws. Throw in some cult mentality, misogynistic drones, villainous wasps, and prophetic spiders and you've got a solid story.

One critic described this novel as "A rich, strange book, utterly convincing." (Tracy Chevalier). I'd agree. It's strange - I'd describe it as fascinatingly weird. Everything is a bit different, the way the bees communicate, work, and live. Paull assumably did her research and a lot of the story appeals to the naturalist in many of us. In this way, it's an interesting look inside a hive, and probably I won't look at bees the same way again. On top of this quasi-science, Paull creates a cult like religion and the somewhat unbelievable story of Flora to carry us through the lifespan of a bee. Like I said, kind of weird.

So while the natural story is a compelling one, the plot is a bit contrived. The one thing that kept annoying me was how Flora managed to work her way up the caste system through a series of convenient coincidences and unique traits. Though, it strikes me that in a book full of anthropomorphized insects, I can probably let Flora's unbelievable rise to fame slide and I enjoyed reading this book in spite of that. I found myself wanting to know more about the hive and enjoyed following the story arc enough to keep reading. In the end, all the questions are answered and loose ties tied. Circle of life and all that.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Watership Down, or those who find bees interesting and want to learn a bit more about them. It might not be worth a reread but The Bees is definitely worth picking up - especially for all the gardeners out there!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Book Review: Nativities of the World

This month's book club genre was Christmas. Yeah. I love Christmas.

Actually not really, that was sarcasm. I dislike the way Christmas has become about "Bigger, Better, More!" these days, and really don't need another fight with my sister at a mandatory family dinner.

I do, however, really like nativities, as to me they celebrate the real meaning of Christmas, before the shopping malls went berserk. It was a bit of a tradition in the olden days for me to set up a nativity scene in our house during Christmas. Also, I've visited St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal a couple times, and they curate a Nativity Museum that is really neat.

So for this Christmas genre I chose to read a book on nativities.

November/December 2014: Christmas

Nativities of the World
By Susan Weber
160 pages

Did you know that collecting nativities is a thing? Like a proper crazy hobby thing. I wanted a book full of neat nativity scene photos with descriptions of where/how they were made, and I got that. But I also got a lot of information about nativity collecting and availability and that was just, well, boring. I also was hoping to see some interesting non traditional nativities (with pizzazz!) but, well, yeah. It's not like the book was boring, but it didn't live up to the enjoyment I anticipated getting out of it. If that makes any sense.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes Christmas or nativity scenes, and it would be good to look at and read with a child too!

Art. To each her own!

Monday, December 08, 2014

2014 Canada Cup - Day 5

Last day. Women's final was in the morning, and was quite exciting.

Then there was a ridiculously long break, in which I went for lunch with my favourite CCA event accountant. Good times. It was great to catch up with an old friend!

The evening ended with the men's final, which was quite anticlimactic. I filmed the scrum on the ice, which usually scares the crap out of me, but this year was different. I love doing these events because I get to learn skills that I wouldn't ordinarily pick up at work. So far I've learned how to film and edit video, and I got supervisory experience from the 2012 Brier while I was a director. This event I learned how to film video without a tripod - not as terrifying as I originally thought! One of these days someone will teach my how to successfully manage the lighting and white balance!

Sweeting vs Homan in the final.

Team Sweeting won the Women's event!

Russ, Cheryl and Vic doing a tv spot right above where I was sitting.

Working on my blog while the men's final plays in the background. Love the view from the media bench.

Slider was really great all week! 

Men's winner - Team McEwen, aka Team Fireball!

And we're done. You'd be surprised how quickly they can tear down everything!

It's always sad when these events end and I have to say good bye to CCA people. It wasn't so bad this time because I know I'll see them at the 2015 Scotties in Moose Jaw! I'm really looking forward to the next event because I had fun this time - I'm back on the curling event bandwagon!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

2014 Canada Cup - Day 4

No tiebreakers means I got to sleep in! Yay! Only 2 games going on so it was fairly quiet work wise, nothing out of the ordinary really. Except I happened to open my big mouth which got me in trouble (also nothing out of the ordinary really) but I didn't get fired - yay! Haha, all is well in the curling world.

I met more nice curling people today, CCA staff, volunteers in the sponsor's lounge, fans, and ended up sitting and chatting with a couple timers in the stands. And that's why I'm here. Good people. Good times.

Team Nedohin vs Team Sweeting - maybe they should draft in the newest snow sculpture?

The view from the media bench is always my favourite.

A better view of the Canada Cup on my 'desk'. Someone shined it up all pretty too!

Team Fireball!

I met this lady in the bathroom putting on her costume. I happened to run into Stu, the announcer, on my way out and told them about her. She got to play one of those between end games and won Big Valley Jamboree tickets! She said she's been dressing up for 20yrs to try get on TSN but has yet to be successful.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

2014 Canada Cup - Day 3

Two diversions from the routine today.

Number 1: two curlers actually asked to be part of our quiz series! So we set up the gear again in the scrum room and filmed another hilarious bit! So nice to have curlers excited to participate, as opposed to imposing on them. Fun times.

Number 2: tiebreaker scenarios! This is my 9th CCA event (I think) and this happens every last day of the round robin - all the staff and media freak out about tiebreakers. Why? Well, in my case it's because I like sleep (if you know me, you know I'm not an all nighter nor a morning person). At the Roar of the Rings a year ago they were talking about triple tiebreakers that would go through the night. Here, there was talk of a women's double tiebreaker that would see a game at 10:30pm (so we'd work till 2:30am) and then another game at 8:00am. Fun times. Fortunately, the draws worked out so that there wouldn't be any tiebreakers and I got to sleep in!

Snow sculptures outside the venue.

It's 50 Shades of Green out there!

My usual view of the scrum. John and Norm have been my journey friends this event. Oh and that's Mike McEwen in the middle.

Another arena view from the media bench.

Getting ready to be announced before a game.

That's my boss Al running tiebreaker scenarios with one of the TSN guys. Fun times.

Friday, December 05, 2014

2014 Canada Cup - Day 2

What did I do on day 2? Edit, watch, film, edit, eat, watch, film, edit, eat, watch, film, edit, sleep.

I'm enjoying working with all the media and CCA guys. It's always one of my favourite changes from real life (where I work with all women - cue the drama!). The guys are nice and appreciative and after doing a number of these events I'm starting to feel like I belong. So I went from last year thinking I was done with this gig to already plotting where I can fit in for the 2015-2016 season (and dreaming about getting to the 2018 Winter Olympics). Good times!

Here's your daily quiz:

I just discovered that that shiny silver thing that shares my 'desk' space is the Men's Canada Cup of Curling!

I never tire of the view.

Many of the curlers have been doing interviews in french for the CBC. Valiant effort by all!

Skips shot, my fav.

What does 'NFG' mean? Jamie Bourassa, the head ice maker told me it means 'Not Flashing Green'. Gee, what were you thinking?!

My job has slowed down a bit so I'm getting to watch a bit more. Tight matches all over the place!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

2014 Canada Cup - Day 1

Oh the curling event routine. Wake up. Tired. Snooze. Get ready. Get to the arena by first draw 5th end break. It's nice to be so close to home that I have my car here and I can come and go as I please. I really love the small venues. Every seat has a great view. The people are extra welcoming and you see the same volunteers and fans everywhere. Backstage is less complicated. And best of all, there's no traffic through town and the parking is free!!

Today I finished editing those fun videos we filmed yesterday at practice. Here's the first one posted!

They were fun to shoot and fun to edit and fun to watch. I can tell you two things about filming Marc and Ben:
1. They auditioned for the Amazing Race Canada and made it pretty far, but got cut in favour of a pair of hockey players. Couldn't use this bit because of 2.
2. So. Many. F-bombs! There was so much fun footage but I couldn't use most of it because of the f-words. Good times.

So as per usual during this gig, I talked to some people, filmed and edited some videos, and sort of watched some curling. Ok. I watched like 10mins of curling. I'll try do better tomorrow. Here's some blurry views of the ice.

This is what my view usually is, standing behind my journalist friends, waiting for games to end so we can film the media scrum.

If you ever go watch live curling, head to the merchandise area and buy a radio so you can listen to the TSN commentary!

As usual I got out of the venue about 11, in bed around midnight, and then repeat tomorrow!