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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Weekly Update

Last Monday evening I lead a ride for the bike club. Started at the waterfront, went up the Don River trail to Sunnybrook, then east down thru Mount Pleasant cemetery (with the obligatory check that Mackenzie King hasn't come back as a zombie yet) and south down to St. George to close off the loop. It was a great calm evening for a bike ride. Only got a few people out of it, and one of them unfortunately got a flat about 1/3 of the way through (fortunately, he was near home at the time), but it was a good evening outing, about 30 km long. I'm doing a longer ride on Friday, so stay tuned.

Wednesday to Friday I was in Montreal to help teach a training course. it was a 5-day course, but because Thursday was St. Jean-Baptist Day, the Quebec staff had that day off (and most of them were taking the Friday as well), so I had to come in to handle the last 2.5 days of the course. The students were a group of Chinese engineers at Bombardier, so provincial holidays weren't big for them. We nearly got locked out of the building Thursday, but things went ok. The language barrier was a real issue, and I'm not sure how much of the material they came away with a good handle on.

Every day last week I had to get up at 6:30 AM (asked to come in early Monday, Tuesday; flight to Montreal Wednesday; early start to class Thursday, Friday) , which I don't think I've ever done before in my entire life, I don't even get up that early during the anime con. Left me kind of groggy on the weekend, don't know how you morning people stand it.

Saturday had the Anime North wrap-up meeting, which I spent most of writing reimbursement cheques for people. Like I've said I was overall very pleased with the con this year. The big questions to handle over the summer and fall will be the best use of space considering how many more people we're getting. Events may have to be moved out of one location to another for the greater good of the con, however much individual people don't like it. Victims of our own success.

Sunday morning I was at the ROM to see the Terracotta Army exhibit, which is pretty darned fabulous. I was there for 2.5 hours, and I rushed thru the final part (with the Han Dynasty) due to extreme need for lunch, so I'll certainly be going back. The exhibit starts with the formation and rise of the Qin Kingdom, its expansion during the Warring States period (which they've made a lot of Chinese movies about in the last few years, see Red Cliff for example), and how it finally conquered everyone else to unify China under the First Emperor. Then we have the exhibits relating to the burial complex of the First Emperor, including the Terracotta Army figures (of which they have a nice selection, the detail on them is astonishing), and various other items unearthed around the tomb, like a Water Garden consisting of a simulated river bank with bronze waterfowl and clay figure musicians. As well as the artifacts there are several excellent video presentations as well.

The final section concerned the fall of the dynasty founded by the First Emperor (which didn't outlast his son), and the rise of the Han Dynasty, which lasted for about 450 years by keeping the positive aspects of the First Emperor's rule and easing off on the negative ones, like massive building projects that ate up the economy, and resulted in the deaths of a lot of peasants. They used terracotta figures in their tombs as well, but dinky little 1/4 sized ones. I doubt the gods were as impressed.

When having lunch at a nearby Tim Horton's, I noticed that all the stools near the front windows were gone, they must have removed them so crazed anarchists wouldn't smash the glass with them. There was extra police and security around the ROM as well, but other than that I steered clear of any of the G8 security nuttiness.

In the evening was over the Hayden and Charlene's for a very nice dinner with them and their friend Heather, and then some Wii Trivial Pursuit, which I started off slow in, but then came from behind to win. Ha!