Saturday, July 14, 2012
What are Booksellers Reading This Summer?

"Chris Brayshaw [of] Pulpfiction recommends Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Brayshaw describes the husband and wife team's co-translation of the novel as lyrical and transparent, providing lucidity to the oft-translated classic."
Friday, July 13, 2012
Horse Falls Seriously Ill on Vancouver Island After Eating Caterpillars

Best local headline in recent memory
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Climbing Ball's Pyramid

"Bryden at base camp wielding the centipede deterrent spray. Centipedes had been a big problem for the previous party, who were using Alpine style assault and had to bed down wherever they found themselves at night. In consequence they had nocturnal sagas where centipedes emaerged, were despatched with piton hammers, then torches grew ever dimmer until centipede bites and contact led to swollen body parts. We were overequipped and never used the deterrent as we were able to choose our bivouacs on open, debris-free ledges free of centipedes. X marks the summit. The more prominent spire from this angle is Winklesteins's steeple."

The Lion in Winter

"Another must on a Johnson-chauffeured tour was the family graveyard, a few hundred yards from his home. 'Here's where my mother lies,' he solemnly declared. 'Here's where my daddy is buried. And here's where I'm gonna be too.' Then, a sudden acceleration and the white Lincoln Continental would roar to the cow pastures."
Contra Homo economicus (my italics)
"In our main experiment, each toddler received treats and gave them away, under conditions in which giving was or was not personally costly. The experiment began with a warm-up phase designed to acclimate toddlers to the experimental situation. Each child was introduced to several puppets who 'liked treats' and watched the experimenter give each one a treat (either Goldfish crackers or Teddy Grahams; one kind of treat was used in the warm-up and the other in the main study, with treat type counterbalanced). Puppets 'ate' the treats placed in their bowls, by making 'YUMMM' eating noises and pushing them through the bowls’ false bottoms. In addition, children gave treats to the puppets and received treats themselves (additional details in methods summary). We assumed that children would believe that the puppets ate and enjoyed the treats because previous research has shown that infants and toddlers attribute perceptual states, goals and desires to non-human agents [25,27–30] (cf [31]). Indeed, research suggests that toddlers can distinguish between individual puppets’ preferences for different kinds of treats [32].

After the warm-up, participants moved to the testing phase. Children were (a) introduced to a new puppet ('Monkey'), encouraged to touch it, and told it liked treats. The experimenter said 'Both you and Monkey have no treats right now,' to draw children’s attention to the limited nature of this resource. The experimenter then (b) 'found' eight treats, said they were all for the child, and placed them all in the child’s bowl. Next, the experimenter (c) 'found' a treat and gave it to the puppet, (d) 'found' another treat and asked the child to give it to the puppet, and (e) asked the child to give the puppet a treat from the child’s own bowl (see Figure 2). Participants’ happiness during each phase was coded by the same research assistants using the same scale as in the preliminary study (average alpha = .84)."

Secret project in a borrowed kitchen, "assistant" constantly getting in the way.

Foie, North Arm fiddleheads, violets?  Kidney, eel, mustard gel? Liver, Banyuls, candied ginger?  Donuts?


E.J. Hughes, Comox Valley, 1953


Thanks for the kind words.  I am still feeling my way through these new black and white pictures, trying to learn how to compose with deep space.  There has been a very split response; some people really like them, others have a reflexive black-and-white = "conservative" response and don't look any further.  I think of them as abstractions, in which every part of the picture is significant, even the apparently meaningless ones.  Hopefully the tensions of the barely hung-together pictorial spaces imply the social tensions implicit in the real places they depict.

The pictures are made along the Fraser Canyon highway, the former route from Vancouver to points east.  A high-speed bypass was built in 1986 and the canyon road communities are now gently dilapidated, populated mostly by German tourists in rental RVs, First Nations reservations, mountaineers and white-water rafters, meth cookers, laid-off mill workers, etc.  The Canyon seems like the "just past."  I feel at home there.

Another impetus for these pictures is the work of painter E.J. Hughes and novelist/short story writer Ethel Wilson: regional modernists whose respective output is not well known outside BC, but which has been very valuable to me.  Wilson is a full-blown modernist who is often represented as "gentle" and "comic"; her best work is neither.  q.v. Swamp Angel; Hetty Dorval.  George Bowering's very thoughtful Afterword to the New Canadian Library reissue of Swamp Angel has a lot to say about what I think I might be up to.

I wish you would start making (or posting) photographs again; I learned a lot from them.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


"There was another matter Johnson mentioned, and Oltorf did not allude to it in the oral history he gave the Lyndon Johnson Library, although he included it -- or at least part of it -- in his interview with the author.  'Then he asked me did I ever see Alice [Glass].  That was something he very seldom asked me.  And I said [I saw her] off and on.  He said, "How is she?" and I said all right, and then he said something I didn't tell you and I don't think I'm going to.'"
Monday, July 09, 2012

Via @bruces: Asian Smoke Reaches the Pacific Northwest

"The NOAA Air Resources Lab has a wonderful facility online-their HYSPLIT model in which you can compute air trajectories in time.   Well, I tried this for a point over Seattle at 5000 meters...and traced back the air parcel trajectory back in time over the past 180 hr.

Here is what I got using HYSPLIT.   The air over us can be traced back to Asia at low levels. (Think about that when that next coal-ship leaves a Northwest port to Asia--we ship the coal one way and pollution comes right back!)"

Sounds of the Seventies (Special LA edition)

Holdin' On to Yesterday (w/ a bassline that sounds suspiciously like The Bear; compare from 1:29-on)

Livin' On My Own
Sunday, July 08, 2012
"In quite a clever but subdued way, this work seems to speak directly to Benjamin’s idea of modernity and fleeting social interaction, being able to travel without having to travel."

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