Saturday, 22 September 2018

Now Parenting: Week 14

Step counter bracket is breaking, darn it. Breast pumping has resumed for more enzymes. Crib sleep seemed to go okay! Anyway, had wee one from 8:30-10:30am Sunday (including half hour snooze). Started quizzes after lunch. With Mom on the mat, she flipped from her front to her side (not right over). Finished quizzes before dinner. Late bath at 8:30pm, and (after all the shrieks) she was a lot more verbal for the evening it seemed. Also didn't want to go to bed at 10:30pm without a bottle (routine) despite four ounces at 9pm. Then had five ounces at 3am, and spit up a bunch just before 7am.
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Monday was teaching, talking to a student, being a client for students, and library duty involving a print and a checkout, all before noon. Then some prep, shopping, and home later than intended, close to 2:30pm. Two hours with Alexandra, including the usual snooze. She wouldn't go to sleep easily after 10:30pm, we traded off. Similar issues after her feed at 3am. Tuesday was less busy but still delayed in getting home until after 1:30pm; did three month photographs. Two hours was from 4:15pm to 6:30pm. She fell asleep about an hour after that... it does take over 30 minutes to put her to bed, what with the waking and feeding and calming back down.

Wednesday morning there was Flames hockey in China. Though I was teaching (former student came to ask me a logs question at lunch), then duty, then prepping, then the pickup was scheduled for the movie theatre at 3pm. Had wee one from about 4pm to 5:15pm, then marking quizzes, etc. Alexandra slept with Mom right through to 9:45pm though. A little hard to settle her down after, and brought to bed with us around 4am. Thursday morning she had a long stretch of sleep in morning.

Got home Thursday after 3pm, a bit later than hoped. Spent about 3:30pm to 6:15pm with Alexandra, though 45 minutes of that was a walk with Mom as well, up to the nearby viewpoint offroad. (Step counter officially broke then, looped belt around it.) Only the last 20 minutes was a snooze. Then tried to cut nails a little after 8pm, and cut her finger. I'm terrible! Bleeding stopped after over 20 minutes. ^_^; Was consoled by Mom. Bottle and bed was after 10:30pm. Still into bed with us at 4am.

Friday was looong. Teaching, anime club, little things like a call, COMA twitter, talk of student walkout, prep work, uploading files, getting shirts and lights (and duct tape to fix my pedometer). Yet home for 2pm, with Alexandra from 2:15pm to 4:15pm including a half hour snooze by her (and a longer one by Mom). Handling emails, then made dinner, as the lights flickered over weather. Back with wee one 6:45pm to 8pm. Finally ate dinner and Wynonna, and COLLAPSED, vaguely aware there had been a tornado.

Woke up at 2am during the feed and put on my pyjamas. Gave wee one a bottle at 7am, but officially started play time at 8:20am. (She does like her Mortimer moose.) Went through to 10:35, including a half hour snooze, and surprise diaper download (so soon after yesterday afternoon). Brief handoff, then Mom was off to her Zumba class. Time from 11:20 to 2:25pm included two snoozes (of 20 min and 35 min) and her smiling at me as she fell asleep which was so beautiful. Using a blanket buffer was such a good idea.

Rest of the afternoon/evening was marking tests/quizzes while observing things online, giving a bottle a bit before 8pm. Can you tell I put these things together in the evenings? There's no way I'd remember otherwise.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Sept 16) to Saturday (Sept 22).

Step Count 2016: About 67,900
Step Count 2017: Over 61,500 (14 stars).
STEP COUNT 2018: Over 57,200. 10 stars.
Weekends were under 6500; counter will no longer clip to PJs.

FROM 2016:
-Felt like I’d be busy until end of year. But with writing, etc. not teaching.
FROM 2017:
-Daily injections, cutting back on everything to deal with tech, stress level 8+.

SchoolMail 2016: 76 (1 sent)
SchoolMail 2017: 138 (22 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2018: 103 New (17 sent)
We have completed DAY 14. Twitter spammed me a bit (COMA account).


TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -Went over quizzes for 3M
 -Figured out new sequencing and quiz for 3M
 -Went over quizzes for 4U
 -Figured out new test and level 4 for 4U
 -Drysdale awards (posters, announcement, emails)
 -Grading most of 4U Tests (no totals)
Library duty twice, actually kind of busy to start the year with printing there, etc.

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Finished recap for “Bill & Ted Save the Universe”
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat

OTHER ITEMS:
 -3 Chapters of “Raising Your Spirited Child” (pg 385-458)
 -2 Mharz "Mark of the Ninja"
 -Lotus Prince’s "Resident Evil Gaiden" (end) & "King's Quest VI"

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -COMA Social, Doctor Apt

STUFF THAT’S IN LIMBO:
 -Recap for OAME 2018
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Catching up with web serials
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

RH Stress Level: 5 (ACS Stand by)

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Now Parenting: Week 13

Based on the weigh-in, we should be passing 10 pounds during this week. Alexandra was then left with Jose, and Anne-Lise and I went to the “Back to the Future” tour of Beechwood Cemetery, as well as finding sleep/shower time. Everyone was back by 6pm for dinner, and after Alexandra ate, she was chill in her rocking chair for over half an hour. Then bath, and she was zonked out after the 10pm feed. (Though awoke early.)
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Teaching resumed, wasn’t too bad Monday. Got home, cut lawn partly, munchkin play, then COMA meeting. Off to Kyra’s for birthday, arrived 6:45pm. Left 7:30pm with Alexandra to drive around in car, she stopped screaming after leaving house. Fell asleep 8:15pm when I stopped the car and gave soother. Surprisingly still asleep 30 min later when relieved by Jose, and an hour later when brought inside. Semi-awoke while departing after 10:15pm. Managed to get her in bed a little over an hour later; looong day.

Tuesday was long at work: Teaching, then photo day, then duty, then prepping courses, then staff meeting, home just after 5pm. Out again an hour later (after feeding wee one) to Jose’s for final dinner, home again 8:30pm. Crashed 10:30pm. Alexandra slept until 4:30am! When Mom made a discovery, she ate 3 ounces, but then couldn’t get back to sleep - apparently needed more, hungry enough not to sleep but not so hungry as to complain.

Wednesday was short at work, to get home just after noon, to pick up Jose and get her to the train station (for her bus). After making lunch, me and Anne-Lise traded naps. Then a nice walk after 5:30pm; wee one still didn’t sleep. Yard care was done, marinated fish was made, late night bottle fussing was peculiar. Thursday was much the same, to pick up Anne-Lise and wee one from an appointment, except I didn’t nap. Instead dealt with messed up phone (removed/replaced battery) and hot water heater (used said phone to service call), then later on gas for car and comic chat.

Friday was eventful. School included the first real anime club, by the time I called home at noon, the gas valve had been replaced on the water heater and the house was tidy. Arrived just after 1:15pm in time for an hour of crying, where nothing seemed to work. Finally soother in the basement helped, then spent time in the crib as Mom went to get a prescription filled. More crying after a half hour nap ended at 3:45pm but brief. Much extended crying and not eating at maybe 5:30pm.

Seems like it’s the colic/PURPLE crying we haven’t experienced much yet? Finally settled in the sling. Then Dad gave her bottles and massages on the mat once she was calm. Last feed after Wynonna Earp, I was asleep before Anne-Lise. Then had Alexandra from about 7am to 9am Sat (including a snooze) until brunch/appointment. Home with a new OS (10.13.6) for 40 solid minutes of crying, and eventually a large diaper change. Later in the evening, she can still fall asleep in my arms. We're now trying crib only, no bassinet.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Sept 9) to Saturday (Sept 15).

Step Count 2016: About 76,300
Step Count 2017: Over 69,000 (19 stars).
STEP COUNT 2018: Over 74,900. 12 stars.

FROM 2016:
-Went to BC with Anne-Lise. Considered making posts into a newsletter.
FROM 2017:
-Many meetings, network fail as part of the CS horror show. CTP VIP.

SchoolMail 2016: 45 (2 sent)
SchoolMail 2017: 129 (21 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2018: 123 New (10 sent)
We have completed DAY 9. I’m no longer being tracked on the .33 Long Term Absence list, yay?


TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -COMA meeting and minutes Mon
 -Devised new quiz and revised lessons for 3M
 -Staff Meeting Tues
 -Going over quizzes for 4U
Students are interested in having me be a client for math software. I think writing combinations as an extra division to the side has been useful.

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Most of recap for “Bill & Ted Save the Universe”
 -Wrote “Chanced Erasures 6"
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Baby Weigh-In & Family Brunch Sun
 -“Back to the Future” tour at Beechwood Cemetery
 -Home dinner with Jose Sun
 -Niece birthday Mon
 -Family dinner Tues
 -Train station (bus) trip Wed
 -Mowed lawn, swept deck
 -Hot water heater investigation
 -Mac OS updated at store
 -1+ Chapters of “Raising Your Spirited Child” (pg 351-385)
 -Lotus Prince’s “God of Thunder” & Resident Evil Gaiden" (to 3)

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -...Nothing critical??

STUFF THAT’S IN LIMBO:
 -Recap for OAME 2018
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Catching up with web serials
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk

RH Stress Level: 5 (ACS Stand by)

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Now Parenting: Week 12

Sunday showed a gain of 7 ounces plus tips on breastfeeding... and was a fairly relaxing day overall? Bath time tears was the worst of it. Monday, OH boy. After failing to get Alexandra to sleep after her 3am feed (Mom took over), Dad handled her from 8:00 to 9:30am. Then we headed to the Labour Day parade at 10:45. She fell asleep during her first bus ride.
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She was still asleep when we got there. Then she filled a diaper, so into City Hall for a change. Then the marching, and she was hungry, so Anne-Lise made a bottle and Dad got the wee one out of the stroller to eat. The mechanics of trying to have a blanket to put over her (it was humid as heck) caused a trade-off, and a trade-back. Basically, LOTS of activity, but by the time we reached the end she was asleep in her stroller again. Oy. We got our corn and headed home, arriving at 2pm just before the rain.

Then Justin Ferns came by a bit before 3pm to pick up Uncle Steve’s camcorder, and Jose and Cecile came around 4:30pm to check in. Alexandra was put to bed not long after 10pm, with the parents following an hour later. I was semi-awake overnight as Anne-Lise did the feeding (and second bottle), was up by 6:45am, took the wee one for 15 minutes as Mom had breakfast and got settled, then by 7:45am it was off to school.

Right, teaching, Day 1. That happened, plus a bit of socialization, and prep work, got home just after 3pm. Jose had taken Alexandra for a walk that morning; Dad took her after 4pm for a feed and some play, Mom made chicken dinner. Snooze-time didn’t go too well but tradeoffs worked out; Mom had also figured out that a butt wiggle can help keep wee one latched on. By contrast, Wednesday was terrible. Forgot my duty, missed an attendance, and removing files for the new semester took longer than hoped.

Anne-Lise, meanwhile, had gone to Jose’s because of the plumber still being there. I went home first, but when I tried to join at 4:30pm after the storm, the car battery was dead. Jose had to come and jump start me, then I drove for 40+ minutes, ending back at Jose’s around 6pm for dinner at this point. It was swelteringly hot, which made things awkward for the wee one too. Dinner at 7:15pm, Alexandra was almost screaming an hour later, we headed out, needed to jump the car again. She finally slept in Dad’s arms for a half hour after being back home. Everyone was in bed before 10:30pm.

Thursday woke up at 6:30am anticipating the car wouldn’t work (yup, took a cab). Teaching went better, had a massage after lunch to loosen up my right leg issues and got some stretching exercises. Then I decided to try the bus system, 30 mins to walk to Place, then a 91 bus where I got to ride up top, then a transfer immediately to a 7 at St. Laurent just after 2pm, which shouldn’t have been possible, but the 91 was early. Arriving home, guy across the street was getting out of his car, he gave me a boost (Jordan from Hamilton). So car got to the mechanic’s without CAA, and I had my daughter in my arms by 3pm.

I was more exhausted than anything by 10:30pm that night. A couple hours with the wee one, cooking dinner, doing the comic chat, just flattened me. Woke up at 6am and did the dishes since I was worried about that and everything else (like toting texts for Data). Morning of teaching was okay, some anime people came by at lunch, car just needed a new battery. Got a haircut on the way home, crashed for half an hour, then munchkin time. She slept from 8pm to 9:30pm, elongating actual sleep past 11pm, oops. Also caused a wakeup at 12:15am before the 4am one.

Alexandra did wake up again at 5:30am and Anne-Lise played with her, Dad took over around 9:30am and eventually had her for two hours while Mom went to her class. He accidentally clipped her leg in the chair and there was heartache. Later Mom went to Jose’s (long walk proved better on uneven grass than gravel), and Dad tidied up his life before dinner. After dinner, “Back to the Future” at Beechwood Cemetery, though Alexandra didn’t like the crowd; Jose hung back with her in the stroller to sleep. Saw the big dipper, possibly a shooting star, and there was applause when Biff got KOed. Half asleep munchkin drank 4 ounces when we got home and (stayed?) passed out.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Sept 2) to Saturday (Sept 8).

Step Count 2016: About 49,000
Step Count 2017: About 69,800 (14 stars).
STEP COUNT 2018: Over 72,700. 10 stars.
Lowest was 8000 on Friday.

FROM 2016:
-CanCon 2015 posts, as CanCon 2016 began.
FROM 2017:
-Returned to work, spent most evenings dealing with CompSci.

SchoolMail 2016: 57 (1 sent)
SchoolMail 2017: 79 (16 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2018: 96 New (14 sent)
We have completed DAY 4.



TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -Labour Day Parade Monday
 -Removing/Archiving old upload files for courses
 -Devising a plan and new slides for 3M
 -Created sample Media assignment (doing it different)
No TC this year, and I’m trying to do a math puzzle of the week. Also, instead of “any questions?”, “someone ask at least one question about this”.

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Summary “Summer 2018” post
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Baby Weigh-In & Advice Sun
 -Tidied up home computer files (esp. school)
 -Massage Wednesday
 -Car Battery Replacement (issues Wed/Thu/Fri)
 -Dinner with family Wed
 -Haircut Friday
 -Dinner with family Sat
 -“Back to the Future” movie with family Sat
 -1+ Chapters of “Raising Your Spirited Child” (pg 312-350)
 -Caught up with AT4W + Lotus Prince’s “Q&A” (2013 & 2018)

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -Brunch Sun, COMA Mon, Staff Tues, Mac Appt Sat.

STUFF THAT’S IN LIMBO??
 -Recap for OAME 2018
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Catching up with web serials
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 5 (ACS Stand by)

Monday, 3 September 2018

Summer’s End 2018

A year for a teacher tends to run from September to August, no matter what the calendar says. It makes buying a planner book problematic, and leads to my “summer wrap-up” posts, as done in 2013, in 2014, in 2015 and in 2017. (In 2016, I was off work.)

Last year, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go back, out of a fear of being overwhelmed. Turns out I’m pretty good at self-awareness, I had a mental breakdown in October 2017 necessitating two weeks of medical leave, and a return minus the computer science course. The one I hadn’t taught in 10 years, where many students knew more than I did. Literally, because many had taken Grade 9 robotics. Whereas I still have a working 3.5” floppy drive at home.


Am I bitter? Maybe, sorta, not sure. I was on anti-anxiety/anti-depression meds (Cipralex) from October through to the end of July. So that was a new experience.

Of slightly more interest is the new experience of being a father. Pregnancy through the Fertility Clinic in September (because you can’t plan when that stuff’s going to finally work), leading to a birth in June, the day after Father’s Day (still Father’s day in Hawaii, on June 18 at 5:02am EST). As such, life has become a bit of an ongoing marathon.

Am I ready to go back tomorrow? Actually, this year, I think so - I’ll only be on mornings until January, and I have some ideas I’m considering implementing. Now, let’s do the category roundup.

WORK RELATED


I made it to OAME 2018 just outside Toronto (at Humber) this year. I’m on the registration committee for OAME 2019, which is locally in Ottawa, though not much has happened there yet. I’m still the COMA secretary, and we updated our Constitution. That online video on the Cubic Formula (which I said hit 900 views this time last year) is now at 3,585 views. I’ve replied to comments there, albeit not in a timely manner. I did another Christmas parody song, performed it at the Christmas assembly, and got a mention in the Yearbook.

I managed to create some new reviews and a new task for 3U (tire swing). I learned about giving quizzes through Google Sheets and assignments though Google Classroom, which was used for CS... I kind of hope I don’t need to deal with that again, but at least I now have recent knowledge. Some MDM course info was updated with better examples, and I learned leaving the second probability unit to the end didn’t seem to help much. But then, I’m not sure about the work ethic I was getting. There was a whole parody video submitted after I was out of class due to the birth of my daughter though, that was impressive.

“Phantom of the Opera” was in the Top 5 for Cappies Musicals, so in addition to some long days at the start of March, we had additional rehearsals for the National Arts Centre in May. (The performance cemented my non-attendance at Anime North the same weekend, which was already dicey given the pregnancy, so that 20+ year streak is dead.) Only one person wrote the Euclid, maybe I’ll have time to improve contest interest this year.

UPKEEP RELATED


We have a nursery. We always sort of did, but the old boxes have been moved out, a change table and crib were purchased and assembled, plus curtains. Many things (largely clothes) have been donated to us, we created a Baby Registry in February and there was a Baby Shower over the May long weekend. Plus a tour of the Civic Hospital, and everything else you might expect with a newborn on the way - with a larger number of ultrasounds, due to the circumstances plus gestational diabetes. Also, Prenatal classes, after I renewed my library card (from 1996), and we now do weekly weigh-ins on Sunday morning at the St. Laurent centre.

The cedars outside got some good trimming, and the City chainsawed down a lot of the tree(s) on the corner of our property (I’m guessing it was bug related, but who knows). The small cedars in front of our property are dead, except the ones outside the bedroom. Oops? Put up spoon racks in January, sort of tidied the kitchen island in July.

I’ve continued tracking all my steps, and have a star streak (10 mins of continuous activity) stretching back to March of 2017. Stopped yoga in December of last year, for reasons. My leg’s been paining me through the summer, this after having had arm pain on and off from November through March. I got a tetanus shot. Carrying the wee one is possibly building up my arms now? She does like walks in the basement to doze off.

Me and Anne-Lise had a one night getaway over March Break. (A massage then revealed what turned out to be a lipoma, a benign tumour of fat tissue, on a muscle near my shoulder.) Anne-Lise’s sister looked after the munchkin allowing us to go out for a 10th anniversary dinner in August (Pelican Grill).

HOBBY RELATED


Went to CanCon in 2017 for at least a few hours each of the three days in October (despite the CS insanity). Blogged about that (10 months later), as well as ConBravo 2017. Started writing for the “Time Travel Nexus”, monthly columns entitled “Drawing on Time”, and have done nine so far (two Bill & Ted, one Paradox Girl, the rest BTTF). Related, put together some videos based on my audio cassette of Jughead’s Time Police.

Continued with my “Any ~Qs” webcomic until the end of October 2017, marking a second full year (non-consecutive) of doing it without missing an update. Brought it back for January to June, rounding out Series 9 before putting it on hiatus. In the past year that it’s now been on Tapas, I got 9 subscribers. (I started posts there every other day, eventually pulling back to once every two weeks.) “Any ~Qs” was also the selection for “Comic Tea Party” in February 2018, and I’ve attended that on most Thursdays for the past year... even became a CTP VIP last September.

I’ve participated in three art exchanges on the StArt Faire Discord channel, which led to ParaB ice skating (by Ellie), a paired Easter picture (with Tenor), and a Tangent for summer (by Rebel). Also drew a Squiddy and some CHAMPS art. In late June, ‘SinewaveSanctuary’ commented on Personified Math back on Wattpad (where I’d given up). It now apparently ranks #28 (out of 134) in the mathematics category, while Rose’s story (TGWSWA) ranks #6. The latter apparently gained some traction, in terms of being added to a couple reading lists, plus votes by ‘Sinewave’, but no new comments. On RoyalRoadL, I got a nice review of “Time & Tied” in December 2017; nothing else happening there.

My serial site continued it’s updates of once every two weeks for the year (aside from the brief hiatus when my job killed me in October). The fourth “Epsilon” story concluded in December, Melissa Virga won a vote for what to do next, and so I edited her three old case files to be four parts each. We’re now into the fifth “Epsilon” story, as of July. I participated in the “April Fool” serial exchange once again, though didn’t do a behind the scenes post. The 400th post occurred on my personal blog (a story from my hard drive), and there were also individual posts there for my CS issues and provincial election issues.

PEACHES NANCY CREME
(Commission from pappomut)
“Time Untied” got kicked off! (YES!) Many of the characters have new names (too many started with “C”, I don’t know what it is about me) plus more fleshed out backgrounds. November, during NaNo, saw about 39,300 words. These were re-edited and placed into more manageable files, and the first 10k were then sent to “Ink & Insights” again. (I went for the Master category after last year’s placement, results are not back yet.) Finally in July (for Camp NaNo) another 7,000 words or so, including finishing the blasted scene with Heather that I’d been stuck on.

More passively, I discovered Lotus Prince as a “Let’s Play” person through “Fatal Frame” in late November, and have spent a lot of time watching his backlog, along with keeping up with Linkara and Nash. In fact I now do Patreon for all of them. I have bought a number of yuri manga. I saw the Nanoha movie in theatres and have some of the stickers.

MISCELLANEOUS


There were plays at the NAC with my wife (we’re taking a pass on next year), and some movies (Wednesdays are Stroller days going forwards - saw “Christopher Robin” that way). A SOAP/AC-Cubed 10 Year reunion happened in November. I tried out a new phone around December (Anne-Lise’s old phone) so have some sense of modern tech but never bought a plan, so it sits unused now.

Read key passages in the book “Mind Gym: Achieve more by thinking differently” thanks to the mental breakdown, and have read a number of Dad books; currently I’m on “Raising Your Spirited Child”. I’m still doing Roleplay with friends a Saturday evening or two per month.

WHERE TO NEXT


What’s missing out of all of that? Well, READING, for one thing. I fell way behind in my serials and webcomics, and haven’t really recovered yet. Plus there’s books sitting on my desk, where they’ve been for two years now, still unread. This was a lament last year too, seems I can’t find the time for it.

I need to update my OS, which didn’t seem to want to happen automatically, and when I downloaded manually, that didn’t work either... and unless I get this working, I can’t get my Wacom Tablet that my parents got me for my birthday working. Hopefully I can get to this in the next two weeks, before things get heavy (and while Anne-Lise’s mother is in town). I also want to get more done in “Time Untied”.

I didn’t keep up with TV (aside from Star Trek “Discovery”, “The Librarians” and “Timeless”), though my only real regrets there are “Supergirl” and to a lesser degree “Agents of SHIELD”. (Also “Steins;Gate 0” if it counts.) The faucet in the kitchen has been taped up but still doesn’t really work. And marketing has been basically DEAD, no guest posts or that sort of thing - in some sense it’s all I could do to make content itself.

Then there’s my daughter. She’s kind of a priority, and aside from vaccinations, can’t really be predicted. I am very much a “mother hen”, doing whatever I can for her, while simultaneously trying not to deprive her of her own experiences. As she’s underweight (born at 6 pounds, 6 ounces; in week 11 at 9 pounds, 8 ounces) there may be more upcoming there as well.

I guess we’ll see where this goes. For the moment, I have a vague idea of individual gags for “Any ~Qs” (which could translate better into other venues), but it’s on hiatus. I plan to continue the serials, even though I only get around 4 votes each time. And after a morning of teaching, and an afternoon of spending time with my daughter (giving my wife a break), anything else I can fit in is a bonus.

Thanks for reading this randomness! If you have any tips, either about time management or parenting, feel free to leave a comment. You can also comment with applause for any of my accomplishments. Speaking of, Gods, I have to get out of bed at 7am tomorrow. x.x At least my wife has said she’ll temporarily take over the 3am feed.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Now Parenting: Week 11

The main event Sunday morning was the weigh-in, discovering that Alexandra hadn’t gained any weight (still at 9 pounds, 1 ounce). So, disconcerting and puzzling. Then to the train station, and home (she drank 5 ounces then), and back out later to pick up a video unit for my Uncle Steve. Bath time was fine.
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Monday was a bigger day, Dad had some time in the morning, then again when Anne-Lise went to pick up a prescription. Alexandra seemed to be wanting to communicate while rocking in the chair (and she liked looking at the panda rattle, much like she’s more interested in mobiles now), not that Dad understood. We headed out to Hawkesbury about 2:30pm (then back for the bassinet, mental note, make lists), arriving only shortly before the bank appointment (oops).

In a hot office, apparently the wee one’s skin can flush red! O.o And in addition to lists, don’t change plans last minute, Anne-Lise said rather than bottles, bring the Similac itself, and then I’m at a Shoppers in Hawkesbury (it’s all French) to buy more. It was good with Suzanne though, after talking Power of Attorney, we had photos, and talked over dinner (Alexandra in the Ktan) and later Dad played with the wee one on the mat while the others chatted. WOW did it rain on the way back after 9pm though.

Tuesday’s vaccinations went surprisingly well, in less than an hour, you’d never know she’d been disrupted by anything more than my sneezing. She was up an ounce, recommendation was an extra (fourth) bottle during the day. Was able to pull together more posts that afternoon, and dishes - then there was a diaper blowout before bed (which I guess beats in bed?).

Wednesday I went to work. Got documents updated and photocopied, learned somehow I wasn’t getting some admin emails, was reminded of how slow computers are (gotta virus scan, apparently :P). Got home after shopping, quick lunch, time with Alexandra; apparently things weren’t bad for her in the morning. With Dad, wee one held her head up for several seconds during tummy time, and Mom figured out she likes a moving mobile, not a stopped one. Then she had hunger pains and more about 9pm though, causing something of a rift, and I should’ve traded dinner times with Anne-Lise, derp.

Thursday went better, despite the early rising to get Anne-Lise to blood work and optometrist. She got back shortly after wails, Dad made lunch and dinner, in between of which we were at the Lego exhibition at the Museum of Science & Technology. Alexandra wore shorts for the first time. Dad did hover too much as Gillian was there. Anne-Lise bought an explorers book for the wee one.

Later that evening during pumping, Dad heard an “oh wow” for the spinning mobile, and then Mom found not having the panda face on the rattle was less unnerving. Then in the bassinet, which was put in the crib for the first time for sleeps. 3am feeding in her room went okay; she loves that mobile now “but why is it here”. Then she wasn’t zonked like she’d been at 11pm, so bit harder to settle in. Anne-Lise checked on her, then was up at 6:30am and let me sleep to 9:15am. Then to 10:30am.

I took the wee one then, and the day became a bit of a roller coaster. Monitor battery life sucks, moved to have it always plugged in, necessitating a switch back of our sides on the bed. Did get dishes, comments, tweets and card to Mom done, in batches. Also walking with Alexandra after 5pm, swinging by DQ, and sleeping my arms. But she was screaming before 8pm then again before 9pm, and I did my best as Mommy was wiped out. (She eventually got the sling going, and Dad caught the last 15 minutes of his show.)

Possibly overfed Alexandra, due to the crying? At the 4:30am feed, she took five ounces, then had a complete throw up (not a spit up) about 6am, all over her and everything, so a trip to bed with us. I missed a burp, maybe? Never got settled after, less than four hours of total sleep. Mom decrees no more sleepwear either, her legs keep coming out of the sleeves and annoying her. Alexandra was all smiles for breakfast out though, and how can you be mad at that? Dad took her for 90 minutes at home after, which included needing to deal with a scary diaper solo. In the evening, it was 2.5 hours, the last 45 minutes of that sleeping in his arms. ^.^ Somehow, writing got done amidst all that.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Aug 26) to Saturday (Sept 1).

Step Count 2016: About 57,550
Step Count 2017: About 68,000 (20 stars).
STEP COUNT 2018: Over 59,100. 10 stars.
Only Friday was over 10k; only Tues was under 7.5k.

FROM 2016:
-Posted ConBravo 2016 recaps, continued T&T rewrites, read and walked.
FROM 2017:
-Spent 4 of 5 days dealing with teaching issues, launched on Tapas.

SchoolMail 2016: 22 (2 sent)
SchoolMail 2017: 59 (13 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2018: 26 New (3 sent)
The new lockers still haven’t been installed. School’s off limits this weekend.

TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -Went in to school, handouts updated and photocopied

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Finished ConBravo 2017 Video Production 103 report
 -Completed CanCon 2017 “Computers Don’t” report
 -Completed CanCon 2017 Self-Pub & Writing report
 -Completed CanCon 2017 Romantic panel report
 -Completed CanCon 2017 Magic & Trek report
 -Completed CanCon 2017 transcriptions/bribery report
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat
 -Wrote short PD post on Projects last August
 -Wrote “Chanced Erasures 5” (near 2k)

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Weigh-In & Train station Sun
 -Barrhaven camcorder trip Sun
 -Hawkesbury visit Mon
 -Vaccination shots Tues
 -Trip to Science&Tech Museum (legos) Thurs
 -Breakfast with friends Sat
 -1 Chapter of “Raising Your Spirited Child” (pg 280-310)
 -Lotus Prince’s “Corpse Party Blood Drive” (28 to 35/end)

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -Labour Day parade. BACK IN SCHOOL. Massage. Cemetery movie.

STUFF THAT’S IN LIMBO??
 -Recap for OAME 2018
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Catching up with web serials
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 3 (Divine Buster, Extension)

Friday, 31 August 2018

PD: Task Problems

On August 29th, 2017, the week before school resumed, there was a Professional Development workshop run by Peter Taylor. It concerned Math9-12, a research based study, which has as its objective: Developing sophisticated classroom activities that relate to the expectations of the Ontario secondary mathematics curriculum. (Along with the Ottawa workshop were others in Kingston and Toronto.) Seemed a good thing for me to attend after a year of not teaching before my return... now, a year later, a recap, as September looms again. For more information you can check their website, http://mast.queensu.ca/~math9-12/



Grade 9-12 Tasking


There’s a bit of a revolution going on - “we’ve talked about change in the math education for a hundred years, but I think the time has come for a new kind of curriculum”. What gets the kids involved, what gets them to come in. The model is the arts, an aesthetic being, a global response to structure rather than a local one. So choose things from the curriculum based on structural artistic merit. Literature is an important model too, but perhaps English class doesn’t quite get it right either.

All of this is preliminary, with examples on the website. “If you decide to use any of these problems in a class, I’ll send you a form to sign, ethics approval, then I can use comments you make in my research.” We’re interested to hear what teachers think. Funded most recently by Mathematics Knowledge Network.

Old model: There’s a control class here, and the experimental class here, we’ll test them both before, you do your thing, then we’ll test afterwards and compare. Problem is, “there’s no test I want to give them both”. Peter said he thinks teachers know if students are learning, and have a view about whether there will be a long term effect, about if students are engaged.

We need to change the curriculum. This is more of an organic process, a different kind of philosophy; we’ll go through some types of problems and then we’ll talk. They’re set up as Grade 9-10 and Grade 11-12 instead of a single grade, a different kind of cycling and to know what the next grade would do with it. All of these are available on the website.


GRADE 9-10


“Missteaks”: Something wrong, yet there’s some meat/protein here. Example: 4 4/3 = 4 times 4/3. Can you find another example where the mixed number equals the multiplication?

The mistake is the idea that there’s a plus sign missing, not multiplication. Can we get to “a + b = a x b”? Turns out there is a family of things that work. (b = a/(a-1).) Peter did this with his grandson.
Him: “Have you ever done algebra before?”
Grandsom: “Yeah, sure grandpa,” but he hadn’t.

Another “missteak”: root(a+b) = a(root(b)). Find more examples. Or 64/16, cancel the 6’s and you get 4, which is correct. Here there’s exactly 3 fractions total where this trickery works. A more high octane example: 2^4 = 4^2. Can get to (9/4)^(27/8) = (27/8)^(9/4). Many won’t get that because they don’t do fractions, they do decimals. Need the square root of one is the cube root of the other, and there is only one solution, s = 3/2. Try the trick with 3 and 4 (from 2 and 3), and of course there’s a whole family.
“It’s a lot in Grade 9...” (audience laughs) “But I do want kids to see big things, like how in English they may read books beyond their capability.”

There are two kinds of quotes: “Mom, guess what I saw today” versus “I don’t get it, what was he doing”. Hopefully the students who didn’t “get it”, they’ll get some technical stuff and saw something real about mathematics. Who knows how that will work. Had one guy saying “my brain isn’t wired for this”, he said “I want to be in an art school” and so that’s where he should be.

On to Lines and Curves: Max Profit P = R - C. In grade 9 you’re supposed to work with lines, but the ministry says they want “some non-linear too”. Often piecewise linear graphs are used, “but I think you need real curves, rate of change is a big deal”. Kids are ready to understand, they’re not good at determining information from graphs.

Consider that a microwave graph for warming an egg is a straight line, heat transfer in a straight line, while with boiling water, heat transfer to an egg is proportional, curved. “There’s a lot going on with this problem. It’s pretty sophisticated for Grade 9.” But no formulas, that’s right, we’re just working with the graphs. (In Grade 12, there is a formula you can derive, in fact the problem is in a Calculus textbook.)

For the “lineup” question, an audience member asked, “Would they use a ruler to solve that?”. Yeah! You could also use Desmos.

On to Neutrinos: Follow a straight line from the origin through a grid. At x = 3, work out the value, it’s 1.091. For radius 1/10, it’s in there, it does intersect. “The is the one thing I’ve never done in class before.” You have to make a construction and “this is hard even for grade 10.” Maybe you want to stick to the 10 by 10 grid.

Peter didn’t speak to “Transformations”, takes 2-3 weeks, it was their first one done with classes. The students like it, they thought the algebra was cool, every transformation has a matrix. (S is sine and C is cosine.) They almost always choose the algebra (over the graph) because it’s an algorithm. They don’t do square roots very much, they do decimals, even after doing Pythagorus for three years. “So I’m thinking this is more of a Grade 11.”

GRADE 11-12


On to Parabolas and lines: Secants centred at x=1 are all parallel for the parabola (not for cubic). “The d’s drop out.” Then, translating a line parallel to itself, how many parabola intersections? They need to keep track of a family of lines now. Family of curves is so important in University. “My first year students can’t do this,” they have trouble with it. They should have seen it in grade 11 [U level].

On to Water tank: Bring a soda bottle, lines on the side, hole at the base. “I converted these into heights, right.” We talk a bit about why it should be a parabola. “You need a bit of physics, I can do it with a Grade 12 calculus class. If they have physics, we can argue why it’s a parabola. Because of the potential and kinetic energy, when something falls from a certain height, when it hits the bottom the energy at the top is proportional to the square. That’s where it comes in.” (If you want an exponential curve, “Tire” activity below.) Being a parabola, it actually touches down, flow rate is zero. Plot square root of z and it’s a straight line, that’s your proof.

Problem - “This point is pulling the line down.” Clearly an outlier. There should be no water in the hole, but that’s the phenomenon of surface tension. So we take that point out, because that’s what statisticians do. (What did I grade this, grade 11? Who knows about grades.)

On to Trains: In Grade 11, there’s a small discrete section. “When I’ve talked to teachers, it’s short changed, mostly financial math, but this is too good to miss.” Recursive thinking, which is a huge part of a first year university linear algebra course. How many trains of length “n” can you build with those two kinds of cars? (Train has a front and back.) 8 trains of length 5. 13 trains of length 6. Many have seen Fibonacci, is it? Can you convince me there’s 21 trains of length 7?

You have to think about the structure of trains. “What’s in the front of the train.” The ones that start with 1 car are T6, that start with 2 cars are T5. (There’s a shift of the indexing, the fifth Fibonacci number is 5, but the 4th train number is 5.) The Fibonacci Quarterly is a whole journal devoted to these things. It’s sums of Squares property (proof turns out to be double induction), but we can think about it with trains. (“If your trains have this property, drive it over there, if not, drive it over here.” T4^2 + T5^2 = T10.) “This is not well known. ... Which amazes me.”

You’ve got to think about half a train. Can you cut all the trains in half? It’s the 2 car causing the issues. (4-2-4 no, two four trains, 5-5 yes, two five trains.) Pascal’s triangle, left justified, means the diagonals are Fibonacci numbers. “That’s very hard to prove, but you can prove it with trains.” An exercise for my first year university class. A great problem, not an easy proof otherwise. [See also Gr 12 Data Management.]

Moving on to Jacqueline and the Beanstalk. (“Grade 12 IB class, I think it belongs in Grade 12”.) Done in a calculus class, so did the separation of discrete from continuous. She climbs linearly, it grows exponentially. Put them together into a recursive formula, as she’s climbing, the beanstalk not only grows but lifts her up. “Forget the growth for the time she’s climbing, then she rests.” Distance between her and the top is a little easier to work with (it’s minus 5).

This is called the “Scholarship” problem, and you did it in Gr 11 financial math! It’s an annuity problem. You get some funding that grows at 5%, keep taking out $500 for scholarships. How much to start with, to fund “n” scholarships? Present Value. That formula’s in the ministry guidelines. P = d/(1+i) + d/(1+i)^2 + ... + d/(1+i)^n . (This Grade 12 class had forgotten whether they’d seen it or not.) Jacqueline’s climb is a withdrawal of 5 metres, seen in a new context.

(It had been over an hour and a half by now, with three problems left to look at.)

GRADE 12 AND UP


On to Optimal Driving Speed: Drive how fast to minimize fuel costs over fixed distance? “A calculus problem in my book, but we’re doing it totally graphically.” Minimize gas/km, not gas/hr, which is what’s on this axis. Slope of secant, from origin to point on graph, 50 km/hr. But when you go to Toronto, you also put a value on your time... say $6/hour, don’t give yourself too much. Now minimize (z+6)/v, intersect below. “The higher wage you want to pay yourself, the faster you’re going to drive, which makes sense.” So if you pay yourself minimum wage? (“This is a cubic curve, it goes up pretty fast.”)

On to Tire Pressure: How does pressure decrease with a slow leak? Note 400 kPa (kiloPascals) is high for a car tire, but it’s what a bicycle tire would be. This IS an exponential curve. Why? “They think that pressure is somehow pushing molecules out,” they’re thinking of a balloon. But a tire has a fixed volume, there’s no pushing. Molecules are flying around, when they hit the inside of the tire, they bounce off, when some of them hit a hole, they go out. Just the imprint of molecules that happen to be moving and happen to go through the hole.

The rate at which they leave is proportional to the number that are in the tire. “Rate is proportional to number, so it’s exponential.” The water tank [above] isn’t, something else is happening, gravity. If you took the water tank, put a cap on it and took it to outer space, would water still come out? Yes, but it would be exponential. “I’m thinking of my first year students, and what they’re weak at, and what they can’t do.”

Could use this tire pressure system to develop the logarithm. “I want to get a straight line out of this graph to check.” If you write all your data as a power of ten, then it converts, your index is linear. Multiplicative change becomes additive change. “I don’t use the word logarithm yet, I use the word index.”

On to the last task, Exponential Dice. They generate their own decay process. 50 dice, roll and take out 6s, keep going, see how the population of dice decreases over time. There’s ten experiments, all start at 50. (Get a big bag of dice online.) There’s a lot of variation in this data, we plot these. Here’s the theoretical curve I’m expecting. 50(5/6)^n. Best fit line. (I bring up the discrete/continuous issue here - where is the asymptote.)

FINAL REMARKS


After a brief break, Peter asked how we felt about the kinds of problems, would they work in your class, what do you need, that sort of thing. Responses included:

“I like the idea, it touches on something that’s relatively new but shouldn’t be new, called spiralling. ... we’re still using textbooks, once we start using these problems there’s a lot of potential here.”

“Students can be more engaged with some of these, there’s more thinking involved.”

“Also hinted at, for a later grade where those ideas are used and developed further, they’re great opening exercises to refresh the ideas. Wiring them up for the next step.”

“The one that resonated with was the line and the curve for Grade 9, they’ll see it again later. Reinforces a continuum.”

“Fits with the idea of low floor, high ceiling.” [Easy to explain, lots of depth.]

To bring it back to the model of the arts, in the art curriculum you start with powerful works of art that are conceptually beyond the student’s understanding. Also, “There hasn’t been nearly enough work on assessment. Christine Suurtaam is probably leading in the world on this, I definitely need help in figuring this one out.” (For the Transformations exercises, there was huge variation. Some students took it seriously, others did nothing.)

But “kids love stories. We all love stories. I’m hoping there’s a story behind all of these units.”

I stuck around for over half an hour afterwards, chatting with other teachers and the like. It’s worth noting that the 9-12 website now has additional projects on it not referenced here.

Did any of this strike a chord with you? Feel free to let me know. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 30 August 2018

CanCon 2017: Main Post

I attended the CanCon (Canadian Content) Literature Conference in 2017... as well as in 2016, in 2015, in 2014, and in 2013. This post will chronicle my path through the 2017 convention, with a particular focus on the panels about NaNoWriMo, Magic Systems, Star Trek, and Bribery; other panels will be their own posts. Yes, as per usual, it seems to take me close to a year to have time to edit the Con files. Largely because being a teacher, it tends to be a summer affair.

First, a note about the setup this year. Con badges were Roleplay centred, much like last year, but unlike last year they were card sized, geared for Str, Dex, Int, Wis, Cha and Con only. I was Level 5 (see previous attendance) and chose to be a Bard (+1 Dex, +1 Cha). (I was a Wood Elf bard named Rolen Amastacia in a recent D&D 5th ed game, plus I have the whole math/music parody songs thing going for me.) There were still experience points based on what you did, as well as random Quests in various places around the Con (the reg desk, con suite, etc.) I’ll touch on a lot of that again at the end.

I aimed to get to the convention around 8pm Friday, after doing the usual day of teaching. My first encounter after registration was actually with the cousin of one of my students, so apparently I’m recognizable now? Go figure. Then I headed to “Countdown to NaNoWriMo”, having participated in 2016 (the year when I was off work).


NANO TIDBITS


There were maybe 10 other people there, plus the panelists: Kaitlin Caul, Kim McCarthy, Angela S. Stone, Helena Verdier, and Chris Kelworth as moderator. The first four are the MLs (Municipal Liaisons) for Ottawa, Chris having been an ML for Hamilton in 2012. Apparently in Hamilton they do waffles on November 30th, which was seen as being a good idea.

I don’t have a lot of notes here, but it was remarked on that Ottawa is the fourth most active NaNoWriMo in the world, behind only Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York - putting us ahead of London, England. Last year 15.3% of people reached 50,000 words. But the overall goal is really to enjoy the experience. In fact goals could be individual - like “write every day, regardless of the amount”. And if the goal isn’t motivating you, change it. The website was written up, and the forums were mentioned.

Also, 75-100k words is seen as novel length (60-75k for romance novels). I’ve written “stampede of creativity”, but am not sure if that meant the panel, or the NaNo experience. (Or both.) Helena addressed some of “how do you find time”, as she’s a full time student working part time with the government. Kaitlin has a book coming out (Black Squirrel Books, October 28th) which had a genesis in NaNo. For Angela, I’ve written “Mr. Van der Van”, which was possibly a tip for increasing word count, but I’m not certain. Kim spearheads Camp NaNos, which take place in months other than Novembers.

At the end, they had little keychains, engraved with “you fail only if you stop writing”. (For the record, I was motivated to try NaNo 2017 despite working. I put a dent in my time travel story, even though I didn’t reach the 50k.)

From there (after talking to Filk people in the hall) I went to the panel, “No, You Can’t Actually Do That With a Computer”; I semi-transcribed that one, and put it out in it’s own post. When that ended at 10pm, I went to the ConSuite, where I ended up talking some time travel with Joe Mahoney. Also saw Kari with some people, beer was spilt, I left about 10:20pm. Total for Friday, 40 XP.

On Saturday, I had to deal with some school related things (though I might have been busy with other things too, yet I recall having marking with me), arriving a little before 2pm to check the Exhibitor’s Room, then going to the 2pm panel, “They’re More Like Guidelines: Rules of Magic.” The room was full! The panelists were Kari Sperring, Gregory A. Wilson, James Alan Gardner, Amal el-Mohtar, and Violette Malan as moderator.


MAGIC GUIDELINES


Violette: Should there be rules?
Amal: It depends. Need a philosophy, not “coin in the slot and magic comes out”. Versus very strict rules of contracts and exchange. “I love asking questions of your magic system?” Do you want it coherent or incoherent.
James: Do what serves the story best. Putting magic up against weird science, I have to have different characters for both. Practicing one is different, with emotional resonances.
Gregory: Agreed. The main thing you’ll hear is consistency. If the consistency is that it’s inconsistent, you need internal consistency. What system would develop from that world, or if you have the magic system first, what would be built up around one that type. Fireballs and explosions don’t work for being inconspicuous. There’s also sound based. One organically proceeds from the other.
Violette: There’s different systems in different books for Kari.
Kari: I’m the outlier here, using the early medieval period. Magic is part of how people define and explain the world. Some have to do with faith, repeatability, fear, geography... so consistency does matter, but what matters for me is that it’s coherent within the context of that character. “The right blood”, “not fully human”, “it’s the ether” depending on the character. Same weight as what people eat, or kinship systems. Ritual or willing something, it has to work in that context.
Violette: Not magic to the characters themselves, it’s their world.
Kari: Exactly.

Violette: Any issues with later books, should have done something differently earlier?
James: If it’s established, either you are consistent, or you have the holy s**t moment and the people who can “use system two” show up.
Violette: So you deal with it when it comes up.
Gregory: If you’ve developed enough weight around the system, then when it’s altered, it should have a big impact. The concern is when you are unintentionally doing that. The term coherency is a good one, dealing with circumstances when they are altered. The danger is when those shifts happen too many times. Know a bit about book two and book three to not run into this. I’m not sure you can get away with radical shifts one or two times - sure there’s some exceptions - as it begins to undercut the foundations of the world you established.
Kari: If I say “okay reader, let’s take a step and say this is not reality”, it’s an alternative, lets us suspend disbelief. If you’re a really good writer, you can step outside those rules. “We can’t fly today, because the winds are too strong.” The will to fly is undermined (British writer mentioned). Telling you about YOUR magic, not the character’s.
Gregory: I don’t know that I could go along with shifting about that rapidly.
Kari: Oh, exactly.
Gregory: But the idea of not having the will [to fly] can be built in from the beginning. It’s a character moment.
 (Some talk of things like losing strength when the sun goes down.)


Violette: Slight change of subject. Any magical systems you feel are “used up”? As in “Oh, here we go again”.
Amal: No, because I think sometimes we get a little caught up in the idea of something being played out or used up. I’m more interested in seeing the “played out thing” done super well. As far back as Terry Pratchett, we had Women’s Magic and Men’s Magic, and that to me is played out... yet reading “Uprooted” it made so much sense. It was also computer programming, resonances of code. It should have been cliche, but it wasn’t. The same things that make it “played out” is what makes it affect us when it’s done well. It takes a deliberateness and an awareness.
James: Amal mentioned “Starlight Wood”(?), and there’s fairy tales we’ve heard for hundreds of years. But we have different takes on them and on the characters.
Violette: Craft trumps cliche.
Amal: Yeah. Unfamiliar with the “Craft Sequence” series? It’s amazing. Max Gladstone, start with “Three Parts Dead”, all the titles have a number in them to show their place in chronology. But they’re all great. Premise is, a world where there were Gods, then sorcerers challenged them over the ability to do magic. And the sorcerers won, and now they’re literally lawyers. All magic is done with contracts. There’s a book where the villain is student debt, but with magic, connecting contracts to capitalism.
Violette: It’s taxing, kind of.
James: Contrast with a divine based system, and those who want to hold onto it.
Gregory: Yes, Gods are literally socialism.
Kari: And the Calvinist attitude to money.
Gregory: That is such a good point, never thought about that before.

Kari: About your basic D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) magic? If I have to read another book where wizards have to read all the spells in the morning [and forget]... you can do it if you’re David Eddings, the first, and it’s of his time. But I think it’s mechanical magic, it doesn’t have a coherence in rooted culture. The origin is Gary Gygax, and thinking what if Napoleon had magic.
Violette: It isn’t organic.
Amal: I agree with your saying it being frustrating, but there is a place where magic can be an intrusion [into the world].
Kari: Precisely, yes.
Amal: Where you have to carry the books around with you. And magic manifesting in moments of grace. I grew up with “World of Darkness”.
Kari: The many worlds hypothesis, high energy physics goes beyond comprehension. Again, it’s an intrusion, suddenly the world is overrun with elves and demons.
Amal: I was intimidated by the idea of writing SF until I read a bit of quantum physics and realized it’s basically magic.
James: Physicists, calm down.
Amal: I’m familiar with these from philosophies of magic and sympathy. It has a logic to it, at the borders of what we know. Epistemologies, systems of knowledge, how we know what we know.
At 2:25pm, the panel was opened to questions.

(About games, and game balance. Things that work well for a game, less well for storytelling?)
Gregory: Book 1 of “A Wizard of Earthsea”. Things are mundane, send rain somewhere else. Over time there is an impact, the lack of understanding of consequences and gradual growing awareness. (Ged, a teen with more or less a tactical nuke on an island.) When in fact the *greater knowledge you have, the LESS you can do, because there’s a greater impact on the world*.

(Magic as intrusion again, Council of Wizards effect.)
James: That’s something we haven’t talked about. Magic sometimes creates the Mages College, and social structures. Itself a source of story or commentary.
Gregory: It goes back to asking those questions. Rules that exist of magic, versus rules we impose to control magic we already possess. Cultural requirements.
Kari: Wizards trying to get rid of environmental protection laws.
Amal: Dislocating, consider new technologies before we took them for granted. Treating the act of reading as magical and disruptive. People who could inscribe runes - it was magic because it was writing, not because it was runes. Been reading articles written about the internet in the early 1990s. Some utopian views, some dystopian, who got it right, who didn’t, leads to alternate histories.
James: Real life magic as psychological technologies. You have a funeral, and now you’re confident that granddad will go to heaven.
Kari: Witch wars, and hexes, and curses, and she says “oh stop it”. We have this terrible tendency if we’re white and western to think it’s something we’ve grown out of.

(Thinking of power structures. Who gets to control magic may not be the wizards.)
Kari: Mages enslaved by elves, and controlled because of their power, and tied to vampirism.
Amal: People who rescue the world over and over are enslaved.
Violette: And pariahs.
Amal: The “Broken Earth” Trilogy by Jemisin.
James: They sit at the sweet spot between Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Amal: Starts out with magic working a certain way, and you change it, she does it brilliantly. It’s thermodynamics and then something they call “magic” comes out instead.
Gregory: For broken Gods, “The House of Shattered Wings” is an example. Angels fallen, and power is used by gangs in Paris.
Kari: And there are dragons.

(Larry Niven’s “The Magic Goes Away”, magic as a non renewable resource.)
Amal: Kind of a spoiler, Mishell Baker’s “Borderline”. The second book’s even better. Very drawn out of “Changeling: The Dreaming”, gorgeous prose, there’s reveals about magic in the first book that brings in an ethical question of using magic at all. Deftly done. Protagonist is a bisexual women with borderline personality disorder, having lost her legs, who uses prosthetics.
Kari: A book where the cost of magic is blood, it’s old. Mages have to bleed themselves dry to do magic. It’s a scary world.
Amal: Or magic done by taking yourself as close to death as possible.
Gregory: Costs of magic and collateral damage - and ethical systems. That’s also important. At it’s worst, D&D doesn’t do enough of that, not enough of a cost. More is needed to give it weight, to have it matter when people do something.

(Seeing magic is tech, or as a nebulous thing - versus thinking of magic as craft or art, a creative making process?)
Amal: Brings to mind Mary Robinette books, “Glamourist Histories”. There’s an overlap there between tech and craft, they’re more connected than we say. Playing pianoforte is important. Manipulating shadows and light, it’s a gendered thing, pretty when a woman does it but art and tech when a man does it.
Gregory: Two things come to mind. First, being able to break it down by strings of notes, “Swann’s Way”(?). Marcel Cruz for pages, sense of music is indistinguishable from magic. Second, we talked about “Shadowshaper”, using street art and graffiti one can draw spirits from the walls. The better artist you are, the more capable you are of controlling them and understanding what you’re looking it. White male industrialists challenge something like this.
James: The second book starts to bring in other systems.
Gregory: Haven’t read it, sorry.
James: The shadow shaping latino community, and other ways of approaching magic.
Amal: I think at the end of the first, she starts recruiting, and her friends find other ways, and it’s all connected to art. Channeling the spirits is an act of resistance to dominant paradigms.
Gregory: I would make the argument, as I do with my students, that freestyle rap for them is magical. Not hyperbole, it’s a challenging that draws on strengths from classical music.
Kari: The British graphic novelist Terry Gilliam. Every 90 years, a group of Gods reincarnate in young people aged 12-20, and after 3 years they will all be dead. They’re a part of the subculture and counterculture, very gender fluid.

Violette: We are technically out of time. Last observations?
James: I will say that resonance is important. Archetypes and rap, what it means to practitioners, some sort of passion.
Kari: If it feels comfortable when you’re writing, you’re probably on the right track. So you’re not going “hang on a minute, where did he get this from”.
Gregory: Also as an act of will.


TREKKING TO TREK


When that panel ended, I went to “What Makes Romantic Chemistry Between Characters?”. It was even more full (a couple people on the floor). I transcribed that one a bit better, and have separated it into its own post. Following that, at 4pm, I went to a Reading. It was Robert J. Sawyer, followed by Eric Choi.

Robert has published 23 novels since 1990, and was reading from his 24th. It’s in progress, the working title is “Tube Alloys”, the code name of the British/Canada programme to develop nuclear weapons during World War II. Robert’s applied 12 times for a Canada Council Grant, always mentioning Science Fiction. All - or most - characters are real people, the premise of the novel being an extrapolation from a pivot point. When people left the Manhattan Project to teach in September, there were issues like the fundamental instability of fusion in the sun, destroying us in 100 years. He’s researched, knowing things like the term “luminaries” for physicists, considerations when the Germany target became Japan, and Oppenheimer losing security clearance. He read three sample passages.

Eric (“how about that for an opening act”) spoke a bit about quantum computing and encryption, as background for his short story. There’s the idea that someone tomorrow could crack security (even without quantum computing), and then everything would be known stretching back into the past. D-Day was Decryption Day. His story (“Decrypted”, which appeared in Analog Science) looks at the effects on one individual, and includes some subtle details, like the restoration of the postal service (can’t trust online anymore).

At 5pm, I went to Trek Out with Robert J Sawyer & Steven Erikson.

Early on in the panel, it was mentioned that “If you only gave us more we’d watch” is not true, as “Star Trek Continues” (web series) has professional actors and episodes that are free. On the 18th of October, the first of the two-hour long finale episodes debut, which Robert J. Sayer wrote. Robert mentioned the first episode of Trek he saw wasn’t first run, it was “Devil in the Dark”, the Horta. When they went off the air, it was syndicated 5 times a week.

What do you love about it? The presentation of humanity in the future, being better than we are now. Which is something the series has moved away from; watching “The Orville” these days is more respectful and reminiscent of the original series than Discovery, or even the penultimate movie (Star Trek: Into Darkness). A mistake, letting the cynicism of modern age infuse Trek. (Robert thinks Yes.)

Robert mentioned how he had the dual identity of Spock in the 60s, American and Canadian, feminist mother and father who believed in inclusivity. “I did love Lost in Space when I was young but have come to appreciate how truth to power the show was.” Kirk has become a parody of a womanizer, he was never that. Fourth episode, “Naked Time”, start of women’s liberation and civil rights. Riley is going “one more time” on the comm, Kirk goes to Uhura, “Try to shut him off!”. Captain in position of rank, superior as a white man and physically bigger and looming over her. She yells back at him, “If you think I could do something...”. What they’d would dismiss as uppity, and Kirk’s next line is “Sorry”. He was in the wrong. Forget what you thought were the power dynamics. What matters is, if you’ve been a dick, you apologize for being a dick. In 30 seconds, aspirational.

Steven asks, so what happened to Star Trek? Robert feels it lost it’s way, the motion picture was the last time Roddenberry had any real say. But, Steven points out, Roddenberry insisted on no real conflict on the Enterprise, which unplugged dramatic potential. The outsider became the threat, and that notion of the outside threat begins to permeate everything else. No Kirk and McCoy, or McCoy and Spock having different world views clashing. Robert remarks that Roddenberry did have Alzheimer’s.

Steven’s favourite episode of the original series was the one with Balok, “Corbomite Maneuver”. (First one actually filmed after pilots.) Robert’s was the one with Flint, “Requiem for Methuselah”. He thinks the single best scene was at the end, Kirk is demoralized, destroyed emotionally, and has summed himself up with enormous candour to Flint. He’s not a womanizer, he’s a lonely sad man, and he admits it in front of the only person he could, Spock. And the scene continues, McCoy comes in, eternal triangle, then Spock performs the ultimate act of love, leans in and says ‘Forget’. Taking on, or relieving his friend’s pain. Great scene for all characters, including McCoy with the soliloquy about love. (Written by Jerome Bixby.)

Steven adds that “Corbomite” embodied everything that Star Trek would become, an outside force that was threatening, and when you meet it, it’s a benign alien entity. Friendly first contact, that’s fantastic. Original series optimism. “That’s what I regret the loss of.” At least we’re getting the Klingon point of view now, but it is the great enemy, the unknown. They talk a bit about William Shatner, and how he was the only cast member to win an Emmy, for “Boston Legal”.

Steven asks for Robert’s thoughts on “Star Trek: Discovery”?
Robert: “I love it. There are enough little nods to the original series that make me think they know what they’re doing. I think Michael Burnham will turn out to be Pike’s “Number One”, and from DS9, when Kor, Kang and Koloth show up they were seeking the Albino - Voq?
Steven: “You know about the spores? We’ve already got holographic communication, my suspicion is those spores are going to force a retrograde of technology, to return things [to TOS]. I may be wrong.”
Robert: “The clue you’re right, is [in the intro] they show you the blueprints of the ship, and a phaser from Pike’s era which had three turrets at the front, and a communicator. We’re heading in the right direction. I’m trusting these guys, I’ll be furious if they don’t.”

From the audience, thoughts about the controversy on “Voyager”.
Robert: “I love Kate Mulgrew, I loved her from Mrs. Columbo before. But Voyager did not work for me. Ultimately I loved Robert Picardo, a little one note in the first season, and Jeri Ryan. The rest of the cast actively irritated me, particularly Paris.”
Steven: “Oh yeah.”
Robert: “I’m sure it’s the writing. Robert Beltran famously would curse out the writers on the sound stage. And Neelix, I would have let him off at the first airlock. I liked every character on DS9, sometimes good scripts, sometimes not, but formula got established - seven main characters.”
Steven: “I liked Voyager, but it frustrated the hell out of me. You set out these two groups, with Maquis, that’s where drama comes from. But no, it became the usual group hug of command. But the potentials of it, and some eps were phenomenal - the Saurian species.”
Robert: “Stolen from my novel ‘Fossil Hunter’. I love Brannon Braga, we worked on Flashforward, but man, when I saw that... I got fewer emails when I won the Hugo than “Did you see Voyager that night?”.”
Steven: “Not an uncommon story, the amount of theft. Like Kes and Ocampa. One person noticed a pile of scripts, looked at the first, top page was ripped off. Realized it was one of his clients, they’re stealing the entire script... calling them out on it to pay the writer. It was appalling.”
Robert: “Appalling. But Voyager had it’s merits, even if it’s the least attractive ship.”
(Kaitlin in audience remarks that “The Orville” ship was based on it.)

From the audience, a remark on Starfleet in DS9’s “In the Pale Moonlight” to the new “Discovery”.
Robert: There’s a real ambiguity about whether Star Trek is military or not. Sometimes Kirk says he’s a solider, other times it’s not a military ship. So, wars, Xindi war in Enterprise, and now this one in Discovery. What would Trek be like in wartime, not peace time? Reason I’m keen on it in Discovery is, Burnside has stood up and said she’s lived by Starfleet principles and will die by them. She’s fighting the battles the whole ship used to fight.

From the audience, about the new reboot movies.
Steven: I liked the first reboot movie. I thought Karl Urban [McCoy] was fantastic. Less so the Spock character.
Robert: I like Quinto.
Steven: “They wrote Spock out of Spock. He’s a treacherous guy who puts bombs on shuttles when Khan is not actually... everything about that second film is infuriating. Hollywood seemed utterly obsessed with creating echoes of the twin towers coming down, now superhero films and Trek involve massive destruction of landscape and cities where you don’t see the bodies. Almost a whitewashing of the image that repeats, perhaps to desensitize the viewers. ... And where did the science go, it’s just disappeared.”
Robert: I’m not averse to recasting, was done on “Star Trek Continues”. And who’s your favourite Sherlock Holmes, mine is Jeremy Brett. Why should Star Trek be the one where you can’t recast it? ... [and] of course we want better [bridge] screens, we can build them now.
Steven: I love the notion of rebooting.

There was more back and forth with audience members about JJ Abrams wanting to make Star Wars not Trek, and that the new movies hadn’t earned the Kirk-Spock relationship. Robert agreed with that.
Robert: The question people always ask is “what’s the tone of the show”. Define it in one or two words. “Dark, cynical, edgy, romantic” ... Trek is sometimes dark and edgy, sometimes light and funny, sometimes an action adventure, sometimes a moral story. An anthology. You can recognize an episode title because each is so different from the other. With Battlestar Galactica, they’re all so unrelentingly similar.
Steven: It’s true, it allows the writers to have room to do stuff. If everything’s being channelled into a particular tone or atmosphere, it limits writers. Networks thought they had the power, but didn’t, Roddenberry was often winning his arguments. And paying for it later.

Robert brings up Stan Robinson, in first generation of African American executives. As the network exec for the first two years, Stan “got” Star Trek and wouldn’t let them be lazy about it. “The disconnect the audience had with The Motion Picture is that Roddenberry spent 10 years telling people his version of the future, and lack of conflict, and when he made it, where’s the space battles.” Roddenberry had convinced himself of his own truth.

It’s like Brian Williams’s tale from Vietnam, every time you tell a story, you reinvent it, that’s how memory works, and twenty years later, Brian was in the helicopter shot down, not in the one watching it get shot down. “Roddenberry forgot all the things he didn’t want to remember.”

I chimed in here! I asked about their opinions on the Trek Animated Series.
Steven: Here’s the thing wrong with that. 16 episodes in the first series and 8 in the second. Eliminate the ones that are direct sequels or direct remakes - “How Sharper” is a remake of “Requiem” - and you have very little that’s new and fresh. The bit that was, was significant... in Star Trek Discovery, they’re still playing off of DC Fontana’s “Yesteryear”, Spock being young. Though there’s a third kind that you kind of have to dismiss - “An episode where someone becomes a giant/everyone becomes old/becomes tiny/young/a monster”, these are are things we can do cheaply in animation, but this is not justification for a story. Should have said “what should season four look like”, not “how can we nostalgically look back”.

From the audience, Star Trek as propaganda machine?
Steven: Efficacious.
Robert mentions the Tricorder XPRIZE, a contest for a device that had to identify three specific medical conditions plus one more from a list, without breaking the skin. No blood samples, etc. The prize was a million dollars, the winners, it cost more than that to make.
Steven: Many things were production solutions to things we couldn’t afford to do.
Robert: You could not show a hypodermic needle breaking the skin in the 60s. Rigid code, people were squeamish. So air-spray hypo came from that.

An audience member adds, people at NASA who were recruited by Nichelle Nichols.
Robert: Absolutely. Minority recruiter. Soviets had the first woman in 1965, but never in United States, not even someone who was not Christian. By 1980s, everyone realized what a mistake that was. Nichelle was hired with a mandate for reaching out, come be part of the journey.
Mae Jemison mentioned, first African American woman in space, had a TNG cameo as a transporter officer.

Steven: So if you’re 9-10 years old now, and watching Trek now, is that going to have the same effect? I wonder. I wonder if that dark vision [of Discovery] is too nihilistic or dystopian. As opposed to inspiring a sense of wonder. I think “The Orville” will do it more.
Robert: “Orville” does have that spirit. Seth MacFarlane is the star but Brannon Braga runs the room.
An audience member says they see the new Discovery series as hopeful.
Robert: You and I were separated at birth, my friend, I will gladly take on your katra when you die. Here it is: 15 episodes of Discovery, we’ve had 4. If it’s the “Doomsday Machine” writ large, we’re at the point where Kirk says to Decker, “There is no fourth planet.” & “Don’t you think I know that? There was!”. It’s dark as hell half of the way through that episode. At the end, Kirk is saying it’s the first time a nuclear device has been used for peaceful purposes. If they don’t, I’m falsely predicting an ending, but I think that’s what we’re going to get.

A final question about favourite captain had Robert say “James Tiberius Kirk”. Steven adding that Scott Bakula is a really cool guy, and given a chance, “Enterprise” could have done amazing things.

I ran briefly into my friend Scott as I headed out; the ConSuite was closed for an appointment, Exhibitor’s Room was closed too, so I did a couple more Quests in the entryway and left a bit after 6pm. One quest gave me +5 XP, to go along with the +20 I’d amassed from two other quests. Total XP on Saturday of 155.


SUNDAY CORRUPTION


Sunday I got there as things were starting up at 10am, partly for the panels, partly because I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself in the afternoon worrying about things that needed to get done. (Were progress reports due for the first time since I returned to work maybe?)

I went to “Snakes and Ladders of Self-Publishing” at 10am, which was a panel of four, and then “The Writing Life: Past, Present and Future” at 11am, which was a panel of one, that being Robert J. Sawyer. I’ve put both of those panels into a separate post.

The last panel I attended was “Anatomy of bribe: What every writer needs to know about bribery and corruption”, a presentation by Sergeant Pat Poitevin. One of those things that might be useful to know to keep up with Scott Delahunt’s serial story “Unruly”, featuring a school that caters to those sorts of people.

Pat Poitevin noted that he was a sergeant as of 2 weeks ago, with 35 years of experience, the last six years specializing in anti-corruption. It’s a “passion of mine”, subject matter. Everyone here has seen a lot of headlines, can’t read a paper, see Donald Trump, without thinking of lack of ethics. So corruption is rampant. When we think about corruption, we think of what?

Can start with grand corruption. In Russia and Turkey, it’s embedded from the political sphere, it’s systemic. “Grand Corruption” involves everything that transpires within an organization/country. And Canada is not immune to this. Transparency International (TI) have a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) every year, rating countries on how likely it is for a person going to that country to be asked for a bribe. Businesses, people, and organizations look at these metrics to determine the risk. (Holds up page) This map is too small, but is basically red everywhere except a few places, which is high corruption. Shows it’s incipient everywhere. Sometimes very overt, sometimes very hidden. How do you define it? What would you define it as?
(Audience offers some answers)

Someone profiting from not doing their job, that’s one. Bending rules everyone else has to follow, influencing outcomes for benefit of one or both parties... There’s institutions, politicians, public servants who have authority over a process. There’s rules, corruption is for a business to get a personal benefit that others would not get in a fair and balanced, level playing field. It’s to force a person of authority to do something or NOT to do something to benefit an organization/company.

An executive wants to get a contract, they go to a public official, and depending on amount (could be minister if it’s millions, or lower functionary if less), they pay or give benefits to obtain that contract against all other bidders. When best quality and price should win. I’m not saying he’s corrupt, but he wants a contract, I’m a public official, I’ve got a wife, three girlfriends, you think I’ll do it for $20? The other two contractors had better services, but he gets it, and the product sucks. Other companies lose, he stole it, but who pays the price? If it’s building a bridge or a high-rise, to make up money [from low bid] what does he have to do? Inferior materials, pays vendors or pays engineer to look away from stuff he’s not putting in.

Corruption is theft of business opportunity. Is that just in money? What is a bribe to you? That’s what I’m looking for. It’s not just about exchange of money, dark glasses and a bag. You still have that, yes, but a lot of the time now, electronics through cyberspace and bitcoin, it’s not just about money. An example, you come to me as a contractor, you got a great service that my country wants. I need the bridge to be built, but what happens is it’s supposed to be a million, it costs ten million, so now a hospital isn’t being built. You come to me, you’re from Canada, and I have a son/daughter who are university age, and you have good universities there. Through your company, you’re sponsoring me, I still get a benefit.

An interesting case, Griffiths Energy, is public domain. Was in oil and gas. They went to the Chad ambassador in Washington, can you help me, I want a concession there. They sit down, you’re going to have to help us help you. Started a consulting firm, the President happens to be my cousin, don’t worry about that, I want the contract. Chad ambassador says he will set up the company, pay me 2 million up front and 20 million shares of the company. Is this illegal? He’s the ambassador. Lawyer from the company said he can’t do that, so within 24 hours, changed it to the Ambassador’s wife. Now it’s indirect, so the owner of the company said good. Then company owner dies.

Griffiths Energy now under new management, they want an IPO (Initial Public Offering), need to open the books, what do they find? A bribe. They call us, providing all the information, want the market to know that WE’RE clear, we’re ethical. (Company giving us the info usually doesn’t happen because of lawyers declaring privilege. Lasts 5-7 years, an international corruption investigation, versus this one that came to us on a silver platter.) Issue: Payer is dead, do have Chad ambassador. There was an agreement. Under Corruption Foreign Officials Act, all I have to prove is that you as an owner have a “success fee” (a bribe). That is the offence, we don’t have to prove the money was exchanged, just that you agreed it would be paid.

When we do a search, we take everything. Maybe not your dog, but your computers, phones, records, interviews. If there’s unethical executives and you’re employees, and you see the RCMP come in, you’re afraid. I just say “you going down for them?”. They’ll talk to you. We don’t know the lay of the land yet, have no bias against the company. They need to be clean for an IPO or the market will tank them.

Here, they pled guilty, and because they cooperated, it was a 10 million dollar fine and they show implementing controls. Griffiths Energy Company was bought out, worth billions now, so it paid off to come forwards. Dead owner was under the bus. The Chad Ambassador we went after for proceeds of crime. For 5 years, your fancy cars and trips, we assess all this - 20 million or 50 million on top of the initial bribe. So, is it worth it for them? No, but it’s a risk management, it takes time for us. I can tell you that a very large number (a majority) of people want to make things right. They’re employees like you, looking at consequences and cost, and at night want to tell their kids about making things right. But, still a high number focussed on money, those are ones we’re after.

In a marketplace where competition is twisted due to corruption, the ones that lose call the RCMP. Because of internet, and social media, and the millennial generation, for young people there’s a sense of justice out there. It’s more in public eye. Civil society’s pushing back on it. It’s easier for us to get information, harder for corrupt officials to hide, because Twitter and Facebook are amazing. They’re more and more under the light.

But the ones holding the light are getting shot, like in Turkey. ... So it’s dangerous to speak out. Difficult. But in terms of authors? Think of the sense of drama. The storyline coming from there, it’s organized crime with a $5000 Armani suit.

AUDIENCE THOUGHTS

Question: The case with the Ambassador, still in that position - what if he wasn’t. Protected position?
Response: It doesn’t matter, no. The only thing to change would be our ability to get information from that country. A high level public official sitting in a government that’s in place, it’s hard for us to get info from authorities, they’re protecting their own. We have to vette certain things - we can’t trust it, must be confirmed. If opposition now in place, we get the information the next day. Ambassador, I think he’s in London now, and all assets are frozen. Asset recovery is a big problem still. Canada is backwards in terms of transparency, shell company and shelf companies.

Clarification: Shell company, you can go online right now and start one within 15 minutes to hide your money. Is there a valid reason to have an anonymous company? Yes, in terms of negotiations, to buy out someone else. If you know you’re dealing with a big conglomerate like IBM, money goes up. A shelf company is different, it’s established by same law firm, but has directors and meeting minutes. All bogus. Can seem six years old, can demonstrate to regulators that there’s board meetings, give a sense of legitimacy if I do a limited background check. This is where the drama comes in, the plot or twist. It is the technique used to hide the money, and sophistication in approaching someone for a bribe. It’s not, I want $4000 every week. (Same account? Thank you.)

The approach now is more sophisticated. To say it overtly, it’s illegal, and it is surreptitious too, they don’t want to be seen. “There’s three other companies that want this, that guy brought me a coffee.” We have fees, it’s very complex, I’m very very busy, but might help you - success fee, or I have this great charity that helps build schools and hospitals, if you want to contribute. What is the name of that charity? My Vacation Fund. They hide, they don’t usually come in and say “give me money”, very seldom there’s an email “we want a bribe”. The vast majority of the time you never use that word, it’s a business transaction, “It’s just the way we do business”.

(Audience member asks about splitting a company into two to get away from corruption, Pat says he’ll come back to that.)

Question: How often is it dealing with corruption where it’s more a private citizen? Someone wants into a hospital.
Response: Those are “Facilitation payments”, it’s “B to B” or “business to business” corruption, as what you’re talking is still called commissions. No country in the world has bribery being legal. Now, is it acceptable, a part of daily life? Yes. Small “petty corruption”, versus political corruption, which is a minister or middle level people who can circumvent laws. Or bigger is rewriting laws. Petty is more the lower level, functionaries who give out licenses.

Licenses cost $50 or $200, but what does it say about the institution? If you have to do this whenever you want a permit? In India, $50 is months of salary. It’s not acceptable, it perpetuates, and it’s changing very, very slowly. The domino effect, if you start here, with a culture of corruption, a school can’t be built. The funds are going to the pockets of the elite, or it’s no longer in the budget, or you’re spending 10 times what it’s supposed to cost.

I go to other countries because their population is sick and tired of it. To get a job in India, you need to pay a bribe just to enter the building. The pay is so low that they can’t feed their kids. It’s easy to blame them for being corrupt, but the system is such that they don’t have a choice. I don’t blame them, they’re tired of living in that environment. Buying yourself into the police or a judge, then going to a sergeant and paying him to get choice spot on the highway where you can stop people to ask for bribes, that’s the reality. How can we help you? We’re not perfect, but we are more transparent. With US in the dumps, now Canada is being asked to help other countries. There’s many that do want to change.

In terms of stories, whether it’s in Canada or outside, business is now global, a global economy. Must accommodate for this, to send services or goods, via Amazon or other ways, we need to have a more level playing field. It’s a collective effort, not just by police. To investigate we need information, and if you’re not trained to recognize it, you won’t be able to tell us. Starts with education. “This is what it is, and this is what it does.”

Money sent to acquire baby monitors or other items that save lives, they checked it, it was in reality for a table like this, and a lamp. Where did the money go, raised by people like you? That’s what happens with corruption. There’s even genocide related to corruption. In Congo, called “Democratic”, there’s nothing democratic there. It’s a clan that gets the money, the pockets of the elite, and when a Canadian company goes in with a contract, paying a bribe, they perpetuate that. I have a problem with it, and so do you.

Canada controls 70% of the mining in the world. Along with Australia, we’re the best. In the past, a lot was unethical, mom and pop shops whose dream it was to be bought out by big guys. Need more transparency, money from the government has to be published, so at least the population is aware. And all G20 companies except China and Russia do this. I work with companies, health and safety is becoming daily lingo. We need to build trust for sustainability, and when we leave, you have a benefit for education.

Question: Is that coming out of Canada or society?
Response: Both. Companies understand that they need a corporate license to operate, a CSR license (Corporate Social Responsibility). At the PDAC (Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada) conference every year, I go in a red RCMP outfit with a stetson and ask CEOs, “What do you do to mitigate corruption?”. Most of them say this and that, or if they don’t, I say here’s what we can do. “We can’t afford —“ “No, you can’t afford not to. You don’t want me knocking on your door.”

There’s still a couple people, like operating in Congo, who say it’s just the way we do things. I’m a mountie, they don’t take it seriously! Still have work to do. But the companies will never be bought out or have a merger. Big ones won’t want to touch them, they’re stupid, and I tell them so. We’re trying to change things. [Connection to splitting a company above?]

Question: People with instant tickets. More your department, or up to the top?
Response: No, in the past we had units with no transparency or accountability. Unit was successful, so many arrests, can’t do that any more. Do we have crooked cops? Yes, like any country. If I find one, he or she will have huge trouble with everyone else. The acts of one reflect on everyone else, I hate it with a passion. Does it happen? Can’t eradicate it, same with murders, child molestation. But more checks and balances.

And why threaten my career because you’re greedy and stupid? If I see it, you’re going down. So in our country versus Indonesia, somewhere I’m well paid with good pension compensation, there’s no motivation to do this. But gambling problems or greed comes in, so from a story perspective, you can consider that. Mental health issues, PTSDs with first responders... my wife [Linda], an award winning writer, was a dispatcher of the RCMP. First two years, I was street undercover, I wasn’t there. But she understood, having had experience.

Question: What about money for a foundation?
Response: There’s a difference between lobbying, which is open, and corruption. In Canada, it’s much better controlled than in the US. Still, there’s problems, look at BC. But lobbying is okay, you can lobby me, anyone can lobby their MP... if it makes sense, lobby. It’s if it’s in a back room, not transparent, and this decision would not have been made unless this person/MP received a benefit, it’s corrupt. “Citizens United” in the USA [a nonprofit seeking limited government] say any company can give money in secrecy, don’t need to be accountable. It’s legalized political corruption.

Question: Didn’t you say bribery wasn’t legal anywhere?
Response: Because it’s part of the system, it’s not considered in the same vein. We see it as corrupting, but it is a political decision, an institutional decision. Once a senator is elected, the next week they’re on phone to get money for their next campaign. There’s rooms where senators are supposed to spend 3 hrs a day getting money for campaigns.

Question: On the nature of humanity?
Response: I should be the biggest pessimist, but I’m not. I also work with young people, at universities, a program called Global Anti-Corruption. I talk to millennials, I lecture, ask who wants to work with SNC (when in media), and no one raised their hand. I look at the change in mentality around the world, with our young people demanding things to be ethical. Because I have friends on social media in Congo. Be careful with millennials, they’re smart. I say, if you’re you’re not ethical, and there’s no ways to report unethical behaviour, they call me. If they do, you’ve failed. When I go to Columbia, Indonesia, I see the change.

But it’s not linear. It’s up and down. And shit happens. But civil society is creating momentum, raising awareness and consciousness. We don’t want to be messed up because our Brand gets mixed up. Collapsed building in Bangladesh, 1400 people died. No one paid a bribe, but they didn’t do due diligence on the supply chain, someone looked away when they added two stories. Boom, when it came out, Loblaws stock tanked, they were boycotted, paid millions of dollars to deal, all despite never paying a bribe. Hit their Brand.

Question: And the VW (Volkswagen) emissions scandal?
Response: Corrupt conduct, corruption is at the source of all human ills. It feeds and fuels terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking, everything is based on corruption. So if we don’t deal with that conduct, we won’t be able to change. It’ll take time. In Canada we don’t have the ability to have info on shell companies. Huge problem, we’re criticized, we can’t just criticize other people.

Question: What of the plight of whistleblower? Blackballed?
Response: It’s a problem that exists everywhere right now. It’s getting better slowly and slowly. In Canada, we have protection for federal public services, but nothing specific. There’s a criminal code offence, so if you’re a CEO of a company who threatens an employee, I can charge you. Never seen a charge laid, but we have it. The life of the whistleblower is destroyed, we don’t have legislation for proaction, the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) has criticized us for it. How can we criticize someone with ethics, when they have a mortgage, and will never be working in their field again.

The best companies have the best whistleblowing programs. Ninety percent of the calls is human relations issues, but it means people trust the system. By dealing with things openly and quickly to give trust to employees on small things, like culture or racism, can then trust on bigger issues. It’s not just about control and laws and politics. If you incentivize, “I want that contract”, get someone like me coming in and saying ethics. If sales manager says “we suck because we didn’t meet profit, I don’t care how you make the next contract”, the talk is out the window. If that same manager says “we’re going to do better this month, remember who we are and what we stand for”, it changes the mindset a bit.

We can have the best controls, but if not the proper culture, it’s zero. That’s basically it. Could talk for hours, I’m passionate, but look to storylines of individuals. Death, murder, mayhem it’s all connected, people want to protect their interest. “Thank you. I’ll take your payments before you leave.”
***

With that having wrapped up just after 12:50, I dashed up to the Consuite for one more adventure before the doors closed for an event. Then a last one by the elevators (failed that one too) before my 1:05pm departure. Sunday XP was only 45.

So, final total of 240 XP. Points that came from passing quests were #1 (Hurricane Marie), #9 (Murderer), #12 (It’s a Trap) and #16 (Wounded). Quests I failed were #2 (Storm the Castle), #5 (Sicilian vs Poison - but after failing I was OK), #6 (Excalibur, both fails), #7 (Sing for Supper), #10 (Wretched Hive), #13 (Snakes), #14 (Grimoire), #15 (Zombies), #18 (Story Pitch, lost charisma), #19 (Crippled God) and #20 (Windigo, lost HP). I never tracked down #3, #4, #8, #11 or #17. I must say, I do like that some quests involved multiple paths (else I’d have failed #16) or a second outcome (like #5), but you really had to roll high. (It’s about attrition.)

And that was my CanCon 2017 experience. For more reading, you can have a look at my previous years of CanCon posts, or the serial I update twice per month, or my webcomic archive. A reminder that attributions/quotations may have errors due to my typing speed, so don’t take them as fact, and mind the context. If you have something to add, do leave a comment for me! Thanks for reading.