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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Playing Catch-Up

Let's see... As of last week, I now have a will. Urged on by Sandra and Janet (who could tell me first-hand on the problems of having a relative pass away without one) I saw a lawyer friend of Sandra's and in two pretty painless sessions created and signed said document.

In other personal upkeep news, had a small cavity filled by my dentist. She had this technique of administering the injections to numb the mouth that is actually pretty painless, but because it involves taking everything very slowly, it takes about 20-25 seconds to complete, and the whole time I just keep thinking about this needle in my mouth. I'm not sure that a little more pain wouldn't be worth it to get it over with faster.

Last Thursday was at Cinamatheque for a Russian science fiction movie (their current program) called Heaven's Call. It reminded me a lot of a 1950's Hollywood movie called Conquest of Space, except that CoS was insane on several levels, while this one was very very earnest. The story consists of a bunch of Soviet astronauts preparing for the first trip to Mars from their space station (which was apparently open for everyone to operate out of). A bunch of "Americans" plan to try and beat them to Mars, launch too early, and end up falling towards the Sun (Soviet screenwriters didn't understand orbits any better than Hollywood ones, it seems). So the Soviets rescue them even through it means they wouldn't be able to reach Mars, and after some more adventures everyone gets back and become great friends, and you're left thinking "Wow, those Soviets are a bunch of nice guys!".

It was a lot less political than I thought it was going to be, as the Soviet Union is never mentioned, everyone just keeps talking about the "Motherland", and it took a while to figure out who the "Americans" were supposed to be (Catherine thought that their accents would have tipped off an audience of the time who they were). The TV scenes of capitalism run amok (Times Square in full glory as a voice-over offers to sell land on Mars at $10 an acre) were a scream, as our heroes shook their heads at how silly some people could be, "All this competition!". But the modelwork was top-notch, and whoever created the starfields (which were huge) had obviously actually gone and looked up at the night sky a few times, they were amazing to see.

Saturday afternoon/evening was the official opening of the Ontario chapter of the Center for Inquiry, the secularist/science organization. I've been dropping in to some of their events over the past few months (like showing of the Penn and Teller TV series Bullshit!) but I was amazed at the turnout for the official opening, there must have been 300 people crammed in there. Guest speakers included John Robert Columbo, and Robert Sawyer, who delivered a short, but most excellent speech about how the humanist movement was shooting itself in the foot publicity-wise in the States by generally coming off as "We're obviously smarter than you are", rather then going after the really damaging idea that atheism means having no morals at all., and that we need to smarten up about it. (A recent poll in the States showed that being a declared atheist is the worst quality a politician can have, worst than a criminal record).

I was talking with his wife Caroline afterwards and found that this was their second event of the day, Rob had a call a few days previous about filling in as a speaker at the global warming event in Hamilton when one of the speakers had to back out. This being Rob, he said "Sure!" and put together a 45 minute talk on almost no notice. Being able to do that has served him very well.

And Sunday was an Anime North meeting up at the Doubletree Hotel. And there was a Polaris Con meeting (the con formally know as Toronto Trek) right next door, the only events going on in the hotel that day, which was very handy for the few people who work in both.

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On an entirely unrelated note, David the Provost was mentioning how he missed your attendance at the Salle (he recalls your excellent enthusiasm). The result was entirely unprovoked, as he was talking to a group of people over lunch before setting up our ROM swordsmanship demonstration. When I mentioned you, he asked that I extend his regards.

So extended.

I should say that when I mentioned that I too knew you.

Yeah, I've just been involved with so much other stuff that it was tough for me to make any of the classes consistantly each week. When I manage to free myself for some of it. I am going to give it another go.

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