bjarvis: (Default)
The past week has been more than a bit of a blur.

A week ago Thursday, I learned my cousin, Josh, passed away in his sleep from a cerebral hemorrhage at age 22. On Saturday, [profile] kent4str and I called for the Chesapeake Squares at the annual Baltimore Pride parade, then he drove me directly to National Airport so I could fly to Buffalo, collect my rental car and head to Toronto.

On the whole, the trip was fast and efficient. Unlike the Budget office at SJC, the BUF office actually gave me a compact car as I had booked. It was a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta and it was a delight to drive: comfortable, fuel efficient, great acceleration and roomy.

I spent nearly all of Sunday with my grandmother and my aunt Kathy (Josh's mother) in Drumbo and Princeton, Ontario, about 90 minutes west of Toronto. It's probably the longest time I've spent with my grandmother in years and we had a delightful Sunday drive through the area, visiting cemetaries where our various ancestors are buried.

While that sounds a little morbid, it really wasn't: death is a part of life and it was a pleasant experience to visit the graves of my paternal grandparents, along with various other Jarvises in the Paris Plains Cemetary. As I commented at the time, it was the largest gathering of Jarvises I've attended in years, and nearly the quietest.

We also visited the Wolverton cemetary where grandma's late husband is buried. I asked why he was there in 1981 rather than anywhere else: after all, there are no other Mordens buried in that space. She just stated matter-of-factly that my uncle Dave (her son-in-law) noted at the time there were only four plots left and if she wanted them, she should sign on immediately. It's just a business transaction. In exactly the same neutral tone, she pointed out where she will be buried, along with Josh and Josh's mother, just as plainly as saying the grass is green and the sky is blue. Huh.

For the record, I confirmed on Wednesday my parents are to be buried in the Brentha Cemetary near the family farm in northern Ontario. My will also makes it clear I'm to be buried there. Don't try flinging my ashes into space or anything silly like that: have a party instead.

Sunday evening, we had dinner with Kathy and her fiance, Clayton. Many of Josh's friends dropped by to say hello. Apparently, Josh was the nexus of an extensive social network and his home was the place where many in this small town could hang out when desired. His loss is having more of an impact that I knew previously.

I spent the morning of Monday bumming around Toronto, site-seeing, shopping and visiting my old haunts. I miss that city. I spent the afternoon & evening visiting with my Dad at the home of my sister "3 of 6" while Mom was out with Grandma and Kathy. Again, it's probably the longest stretch I've spent alone with Dad in decades.

After his recent ostomy operation due to Crohn's Disease, he's recuperating nicely. He still doesn't have the energy he used to for endurance, but he's clear, articulate and in good spirits.

Tuesday was largely spent on my own and hanging out with my Toronto hosts John & Chris, indulging in some quiet and contemplative time.

On Wednesday, I packed everything and headed to Mississauga to collect Dad and we both drove out to Drumbo to rendez-vous with Mom and Grandma, had an early dinner and then headed to Woodstock for the first viewing (The second viewing was on Thursday and the formal funeral & internment on Friday but I couldn't stay in Canada for those events).

There was a steady stream of Josh's friends and co-workers from 7-9pm. For the most part, I sat with Dad and we continued various conversations from the prior day, both of us rising when summoned by Mom, Grandma or Kathy as needed for introductions or errands.

I'm happy to report Mom was distinctly non-sociopathic. I'm not sure if Dad's improved health has relieved her stress so she isn't wigging out in ugly, nearly violent anti-social behavior, the likes of which nearly had her removed from Dad's hospital by security only a month ago. It could also be that she's simply on her best behavior because she's in public: she has a talent for camouflaging her periodic bat-shit crazy behavior when required to charm strangers or avoid being called on her excesses by those she can't control (ie. Grandma, Kathy and me). In any case, we were fine the entire time and parted on good terms.

When the event was over, I drove Mom, Grandma and Dad back to Grandma's apartment, said my good-byes and headed for Buffalo. I had originally planned to travel early Thursday morning from Toronto for my 8:45am Buffalo-to-DC flight but decided at nearly the last minute that fighting my way through unpredictable morning traffic around the entire Golden Horseshoe area of southern Ontario then get my way through the border crossing was too much stress for a morning trip. Going to Buffalo Wednesday night and taking a cheap hotel room near the airport would provide more rest time. That was the theory, anyway.

Sure enough, I made good driving time to Buffalo and needed a half-hour to get through the processing queue at the border. While my Econo Lodge gave me an enormous suite for my single night's stay, the AC couldn't keep up with the near-record heat in a room that big so I got only three hours of sleep while baking & sweating in bed.

On the good side in the morning, however, I checked out of the hotel, packed the car, drove to the airport, dropped off the rental, checked in at US Airways, got through security and walked to my gate within 30 minutes. Total win.

The flight was uninteresting except for the misbehaving toddlers and overly-indulgent pseudo-parents in row 12, directly in front of me. Horrid. I'm so glad it was only a 50 minute flight.

Once back in DC, I took the subway home, rested a little, did some work and then headed downtown to call a Mainstream & Plus club night for the DC Lambda Squares.

I regret I couldn't spend an additional night or two in Canada. There are so many friends I would have liked to have seen, but my only free time was during the workday and even then, there were periods when I needed to be alone. I wasn't close to Josh so I'm still more than a bit surprised how painful his loss has been.

Friday was all work, including a site visit to the data center to collect equipment from Shipping and reboot some recalcitrant appliances.

Today was our day of good deeds. [profile] kent4str's mother is still in the rehab facility, getting physio for her minor stroke nine weeks ago. She's going to be released back into the wild shortly so the three of us descended on her & Dad's house in Mt Airy, MD, to scrub the place top to bottom and re-arrange furniture in the master bedroom for her easier access. We also fixed a minor problem with the central air conditioning condenser drain hose and generally tackled whatever project Ralph required. We were well fed as a reward. I'm looking forward to Zoe's return home.
bjarvis: (Default)
Early morning flights are a pain in the butt but it's a necessary evil. *sigh*

We're heading to southern Ontario this morning to celebrate my grandmother's 85th birthday in Drumbo, ON. Our little jaunt this morning will take us from home to BWI Airport, then a quick hop to Buffalo, NY, where we'll rent a car to drive across the border into Canada and to Toronto where we're staying with friends.

Planned side trips this weekend will also include a visit to my financial advisor, a meal at Swiss Chalet, a visit to the St Lawrence Market and at least one meal with the clan aside from Grandma's event. We may yet squeeze some other stuff into the schedule but this trip is primarily about family until they drive me freaking nuts and we need to escape.

Pray for all involved.
bjarvis: (plane2)
As mentioned previously, my brother is remarrying in Halifax, NS, October 10. After a small bout of sticker shock from airline rates, we've decided that I'll be attending the wedding solo: we just can't afford to send both [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr and [livejournal.com profile] kent4str along with me.

Taking advantage of [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr's travel agent super-powers, I deftly waited until after Labour Day to book a flight as the airlines typically shuffle & add routes and offer sales during this window. Sure enough, a new option has appeared: a direct flight between Washington DC (Dulles airport) and Halifax!

I've just completed the purchase. For $533 USD (ouch!), I'm departing DC on Thursday, October 8, 2009, arriving in Halifax around lunchtime; I'll be returning the morning of Tuesday, October 13.

The extended clan has largely decided to stay at the Esquire Motel in Bedford, NS. The place has larger suites for families with kids and they're pet-friendly. For the sake of my sanity, I'm tempted to look elsewhere, but for the sake of family peace & tranquility, I'll likely stay there too.

Anyone out there in Halifax?
bjarvis: (plane2)
As mentioned previously, my brother is remarrying in Halifax, NS, October 10. After a small bout of sticker shock from airline rates, we've decided that I'll be attending the wedding solo: we just can't afford to send both [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr and [livejournal.com profile] kent4str along with me.

Taking advantage of [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr's travel agent super-powers, I deftly waited until after Labour Day to book a flight as the airlines typically shuffle & add routes and offer sales during this window. Sure enough, a new option has appeared: a direct flight between Washington DC (Dulles airport) and Halifax!

I've just completed the purchase. For $533 USD (ouch!), I'm departing DC on Thursday, October 8, 2009, arriving in Halifax around lunchtime; I'll be returning the morning of Tuesday, October 13.

The extended clan has largely decided to stay at the Esquire Motel in Bedford, NS. The place has larger suites for families with kids and they're pet-friendly. For the sake of my sanity, I'm tempted to look elsewhere, but for the sake of family peace & tranquility, I'll likely stay there too.

Anyone out there in Halifax?
bjarvis: (Parliament)
Canada held a federal election yesterday after 37 days of campaigning. And the results are... pretty boring. CBC Radio got it right a few weeks ago: this election really wasn't Clash of the Titans so much as it was Revenge of the Nerds.

The Conservatives won a second minority gov't, increasing their seats from 127 to 143. They need 155 for a majority. The Liberals lost a handful, 95 to 77. The Bloc Quebecois gained a seat (now 49), the New Democrats gained seven (now 37) and two independents were elected.

This election really wasn't about anything except attempting to break a Parliamentary logjam, and even that didn't work. Harper had no reason to call an election but to gain a majority and he failed; Dion had only his Green Shift plan to campaign on and that wasn't enough with the economy taking hits. Everyone else was running on a we're-not-the-Conservatives platform. None of this had to happen.

And now, per tradition, the knives come out. )
bjarvis: (Parliament)
Canada held a federal election yesterday after 37 days of campaigning. And the results are... pretty boring. CBC Radio got it right a few weeks ago: this election really wasn't Clash of the Titans so much as it was Revenge of the Nerds.

The Conservatives won a second minority gov't, increasing their seats from 127 to 143. They need 155 for a majority. The Liberals lost a handful, 95 to 77. The Bloc Quebecois gained a seat (now 49), the New Democrats gained seven (now 37) and two independents were elected.

This election really wasn't about anything except attempting to break a Parliamentary logjam, and even that didn't work. Harper had no reason to call an election but to gain a majority and he failed; Dion had only his Green Shift plan to campaign on and that wasn't enough with the economy taking hits. Everyone else was running on a we're-not-the-Conservatives platform. None of this had to happen.

And now, per tradition, the knives come out. )
bjarvis: (Parliament)
This morning, the Prime Minister of Canada called a snap federal election. The voters will be casting their ballots on October 14.

Yes, that's right: the Canadian election campaign will take 37 days.

Those tired of the never-ending US psychodrama of the past 2+ years still have nearly 2 months of joy.

Whatever the miscellaneous faults of both the US and Canadian system of elections, I'm hugely in favour of shorter, cheaper campaigns. If nothing else, it limits the number of forests which have to be clear-cut to supply the yard signs.

We now return you to your own regularly scheduled never-ending psychodrama already in progress.
bjarvis: (Parliament)
This morning, the Prime Minister of Canada called a snap federal election. The voters will be casting their ballots on October 14.

Yes, that's right: the Canadian election campaign will take 37 days.

Those tired of the never-ending US psychodrama of the past 2+ years still have nearly 2 months of joy.

Whatever the miscellaneous faults of both the US and Canadian system of elections, I'm hugely in favour of shorter, cheaper campaigns. If nothing else, it limits the number of forests which have to be clear-cut to supply the yard signs.

We now return you to your own regularly scheduled never-ending psychodrama already in progress.
bjarvis: (Olympus SP-500 UZ)
As I was leaving Toronto last Sunday morning, I was following this car along Logan Street:


The pooch would stick his head out one window for a block or so, then turn around to stick his head out the other side for a while. The tail was wagging furiously the entire time. Clearly, this is a very happy dog.
bjarvis: (Olympus SP-500 UZ)
As I was leaving Toronto last Sunday morning, I was following this car along Logan Street:


The pooch would stick his head out one window for a block or so, then turn around to stick his head out the other side for a while. The tail was wagging furiously the entire time. Clearly, this is a very happy dog.
bjarvis: (plane)
This morning, I arose at 6 AM to drive from London, Ontario to Buffalo, New York. Outside of heavy rain from Brantford to Grimsby, the drive was uneventful; even the border crossing was easy.

[livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr collected me at BWI shortly after noon and we were home soon thereafter. I've spent the past few hours catching up on both office and home e-mail, among other minor domestic tasks.

It's been a fun trip but I wish I had more time to visit with everyone.
bjarvis: (plane)
This morning, I arose at 6 AM to drive from London, Ontario to Buffalo, New York. Outside of heavy rain from Brantford to Grimsby, the drive was uneventful; even the border crossing was easy.

[livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr collected me at BWI shortly after noon and we were home soon thereafter. I've spent the past few hours catching up on both office and home e-mail, among other minor domestic tasks.

It's been a fun trip but I wish I had more time to visit with everyone.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
There were two more sessions of at the CALLERLAB mini-convention in London, Ontario.

The first of Tuesday was a choice between "Winning Ways" and "Showmanship." I opted for the latter with Tim Marriner and John Marshall. In a nutshell, it was a session on managing one's public appearance & perception and being professional before, during and after the dance. There was also ideas on how to establish a stage presence, handle surprises and deal with issues with grace. As with some other sessions, it's stuff I've heard before at one caller school or another, but the reminders were useful and the war stories were a hoot.

The final session was a general closing session. Thanks were offered to the volunteers, organizers and staffers; the floor was then opened to general discussion on any topic desired. There were lively and forceful comments in support of competitive square dancing and raising the profile of square dancing via the media. I was tempted to declare my own opinion that any public profile made showcasing the dated drag outfits of some 1950s fantasy world would utterly undermine any attempt at recruitment; I suspected, however, that this wasn't the time or place, choosing to bite my tongue.

When the conference wrapped up at noon, I gathered my papers, packed my backpack and headed to Drumbo to spend some time with my maternal grandmother.

As expected, she's doing well. We caught up on family gossip then went out for a short drive to visit with a handful of other relatives in the general community. One cousin's lawn maintenance business seems to be doing well; an uncle's back surgery seems to have been successful but it's too soon to tell definitively; another uncle is building a new house, etc, etc.

Towards 6 PM, I headed back to London and drive directly to the home of [livejournal.com profile] bearfinch in the north end of the city. For the first time this trip, I was able to dine at Swiss Chalet! Woo hoo! OK, it's not that big a deal really, but I like Swiss Chalet and it's a small indulgence when I get a chance.

When I strolled into the lobby of my hotel later in the evening, I was surprised to find the same motley crew of CALLERLAB attendees playing board games in the lounge. Had I not been already thoroughly exhausted and facing a 6 AM alarm clock, I would have happily joined them. Sleep beckoned, however, and I could not resist its siren song.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
There were two more sessions of at the CALLERLAB mini-convention in London, Ontario.

The first of Tuesday was a choice between "Winning Ways" and "Showmanship." I opted for the latter with Tim Marriner and John Marshall. In a nutshell, it was a session on managing one's public appearance & perception and being professional before, during and after the dance. There was also ideas on how to establish a stage presence, handle surprises and deal with issues with grace. As with some other sessions, it's stuff I've heard before at one caller school or another, but the reminders were useful and the war stories were a hoot.

The final session was a general closing session. Thanks were offered to the volunteers, organizers and staffers; the floor was then opened to general discussion on any topic desired. There were lively and forceful comments in support of competitive square dancing and raising the profile of square dancing via the media. I was tempted to declare my own opinion that any public profile made showcasing the dated drag outfits of some 1950s fantasy world would utterly undermine any attempt at recruitment; I suspected, however, that this wasn't the time or place, choosing to bite my tongue.

When the conference wrapped up at noon, I gathered my papers, packed my backpack and headed to Drumbo to spend some time with my maternal grandmother.

As expected, she's doing well. We caught up on family gossip then went out for a short drive to visit with a handful of other relatives in the general community. One cousin's lawn maintenance business seems to be doing well; an uncle's back surgery seems to have been successful but it's too soon to tell definitively; another uncle is building a new house, etc, etc.

Towards 6 PM, I headed back to London and drive directly to the home of [livejournal.com profile] bearfinch in the north end of the city. For the first time this trip, I was able to dine at Swiss Chalet! Woo hoo! OK, it's not that big a deal really, but I like Swiss Chalet and it's a small indulgence when I get a chance.

When I strolled into the lobby of my hotel later in the evening, I was surprised to find the same motley crew of CALLERLAB attendees playing board games in the lounge. Had I not been already thoroughly exhausted and facing a 6 AM alarm clock, I would have happily joined them. Sleep beckoned, however, and I could not resist its siren song.
bjarvis: (callerlab)
I slept but not very restfully. This isn't too surprising as I seldom sleep well the first night in a new bed. Compounding my normal morning annoyance, my alarm clock didn't go off because I had mis-set it and was consequently late to the first morning session.

There were two tracks running 75 minutes each simultaneously, two per morning and two per afternoon. Many were similar to sessions I had attended at the CALLERLAB convention in Los Angeles last March so I was able to chose which sessions to attend more easily than first-time attendees.

The first session I attended was an "Introduction to Voice" with Donna Flynn. I like her: she's one of the few vocal coaches I've heard who didn't go all metaphysical and artsy-fartsy when talking about one's voice and vocal chords. Her recommended exercises for warming up and vocal practice were direct and very useful; her recommendations for hydration & nutrition less so... not having sugar drinks or caffeine three days before a performance is not exactly practical for those of us who may be on a mic 4-5 times per week. As one other attendee restated the rules, if it tastes good or has flavour, you can't have it. Ever. Still, she gets the difference between what square dance callers do and what professional singers do and recommended that some folks may actually need a public speaking coach more than they need a singing coach.

For the second morning session, I attended "Steal a Peak" with Tim Marriner, Bill Harrison and John Marshall. Each caller presented a handful of favoured musical selections from their library, explaining how they used it and analyzing its appeal. Some of it was new to me while others were very familiar.

Per usual, the topic of music to attract younger dancers came up. Examples of such were offered but they were "Funky Town" and ABBA's "Super Trouper." Sure, they're good examples, but do they know they're pulling up examples of hip music for youngsters which are nearly 30 years old? Just when I was working up the nerve to ask for a piece of music which wasn't already older than the supposed target audience, Tim Marriner pulled out "Born to Hand Jive," a fun, driving piece. Bullet dodged. :-)

A light lunch of delicious sandwich wraps and soup was made available before the next sessions. I tried to catch up on email/drama back in DC and was thus a few minutes late for the "Teaching Methods and Making Learning Fun" forum with Norm Wilcox and Betsy Gotta. Much of this material I had already heard in Los Angeles back in March but it was good to have it reinforced.

By the mid-afternoon, I was running out of steam. I had a choice between the partners session and the digital music session. I chose option three: go for a nap before my head could hit the table.

The evening's banquet was fun. I sat a table with Clark Baker, Bill Ackerman, Osamu Miyabe, Chris Homer and Louis & Nancy Friedlander; conversations about the Friedlander's work on the upcoming national square dance convention in Detroit and my work with the IAGSDC convention abounded, among other bits of smalltalk.

The food itself was excellent: caesar salad, stuffed chicken breast, potatoes and carrots. I might never leave.

We had a series of square dance tips after dinner on the small dance floor, regularly assembling three squares per tip. The planned events of the evening wrapped up with Clark Baker's hexagon squares; I'm glad to have had some experience from ACDC 2007 with Clark on this, but he extended it further than I had seen previously, into diamonds, spin chain & exchange the gears and more. Much fun!
bjarvis: (callerlab)
I slept but not very restfully. This isn't too surprising as I seldom sleep well the first night in a new bed. Compounding my normal morning annoyance, my alarm clock didn't go off because I had mis-set it and was consequently late to the first morning session.

There were two tracks running 75 minutes each simultaneously, two per morning and two per afternoon. Many were similar to sessions I had attended at the CALLERLAB convention in Los Angeles last March so I was able to chose which sessions to attend more easily than first-time attendees.

The first session I attended was an "Introduction to Voice" with Donna Flynn. I like her: she's one of the few vocal coaches I've heard who didn't go all metaphysical and artsy-fartsy when talking about one's voice and vocal chords. Her recommended exercises for warming up and vocal practice were direct and very useful; her recommendations for hydration & nutrition less so... not having sugar drinks or caffeine three days before a performance is not exactly practical for those of us who may be on a mic 4-5 times per week. As one other attendee restated the rules, if it tastes good or has flavour, you can't have it. Ever. Still, she gets the difference between what square dance callers do and what professional singers do and recommended that some folks may actually need a public speaking coach more than they need a singing coach.

For the second morning session, I attended "Steal a Peak" with Tim Marriner, Bill Harrison and John Marshall. Each caller presented a handful of favoured musical selections from their library, explaining how they used it and analyzing its appeal. Some of it was new to me while others were very familiar.

Per usual, the topic of music to attract younger dancers came up. Examples of such were offered but they were "Funky Town" and ABBA's "Super Trouper." Sure, they're good examples, but do they know they're pulling up examples of hip music for youngsters which are nearly 30 years old? Just when I was working up the nerve to ask for a piece of music which wasn't already older than the supposed target audience, Tim Marriner pulled out "Born to Hand Jive," a fun, driving piece. Bullet dodged. :-)

A light lunch of delicious sandwich wraps and soup was made available before the next sessions. I tried to catch up on email/drama back in DC and was thus a few minutes late for the "Teaching Methods and Making Learning Fun" forum with Norm Wilcox and Betsy Gotta. Much of this material I had already heard in Los Angeles back in March but it was good to have it reinforced.

By the mid-afternoon, I was running out of steam. I had a choice between the partners session and the digital music session. I chose option three: go for a nap before my head could hit the table.

The evening's banquet was fun. I sat a table with Clark Baker, Bill Ackerman, Osamu Miyabe, Chris Homer and Louis & Nancy Friedlander; conversations about the Friedlander's work on the upcoming national square dance convention in Detroit and my work with the IAGSDC convention abounded, among other bits of smalltalk.

The food itself was excellent: caesar salad, stuffed chicken breast, potatoes and carrots. I might never leave.

We had a series of square dance tips after dinner on the small dance floor, regularly assembling three squares per tip. The planned events of the evening wrapped up with Clark Baker's hexagon squares; I'm glad to have had some experience from ACDC 2007 with Clark on this, but he extended it further than I had seen previously, into diamonds, spin chain & exchange the gears and more. Much fun!
bjarvis: (Toronto city hall)
I was up relatively early. I haven't been sleeping well but no particular good reason. I suppose the small excitement of being back in Canada and seeing good friends again is a factor, but I would have thought being so exhausted would naturally lead to sleep. Not so.

If I couldn't sleep then I could at least do laundry. It's not exactly the same, but it needed to be done and I had some time to catch up on e-mail while the appliances were at work.

With my laundry done and myself through the shower, I said good-bye to my hosts, packed the car and headed west.

Traffic was light leaving Toronto: I had missed the worst of rush hour and since I was heading west, I was going against the bulk of the commuter flow anyway.

My first stop was in Cambridge to visit Sean & Bonnie and family. Sean and I went to high school together some 20+ years ago and was one of my best friends from that era long ago. Their daughter Kelsey just celebrated her 16th birthday; Graeme is 14 (I think). The last time I saw them, Graeme was just starting elementary school.


The kids and two of their friends wanted to go water skiing that afternoon so I joined Sean and the kids in the boat. Sean and I were able to catch up between the kids' wipeouts. I might have tried it myself but I really wasn't dressed or prepped for the adventure. I would have just embarrassed my ancestors, anyway.

Towards 4 PM, I hopped said my good-byes once again and drove the rest of the way to London for the mini-CALLERLAB convention.

The convention was being held at the Best Western Stoneridge Inn & Convention Center, a name almost larger than the building itself. Not that I have any complaints about the hotel itself: it was small but had all of the desired amenities, comfortable workspaces, nice rooms and a pretty good restaurant. I was in room 217, which seemed almost wasteful: I had an enormous king-sized bed in the most spacious room I've ever had in a hotel short of a suite. The only problem with my room is that the chair at the work desk was less than ideal but that's hardly a flaw on an otherwise perfect stay.

[livejournal.com profile] canseefour was handling the registration check-in. She's a natural for that task as I suspect she knows every square dancer in North America and a huge percentage of the rest of the planet. I was also happy to unload the rest of the Zip Coder magazines & subscription forms I was carrying at a table of brochures & pamphlets. [livejournal.com profile] canseefour even offered to take any leftover magazines & forms to the dancer convention later in the week.

Since I hadn't yet found time for dinner, I indulged in a sizable plate of chicken alfredo at the hotel restaurant before dashing off to the opening session of the convention.

The opening comments and information by Barry Clasper and John Marshall were cogent and brief --as they should be. The other guest panelists Bill Harrison and Dana Schirmer along with co-organizer Tim Crawford added some extra info about the value and services of CALLERLAB for the benefit of those not yet members, and I suppose a useful reminder to folks who were longtime members.

The conference itself was an intimate affair: we had about 30 registrants plus a few spouses. I knew nearly everyone by reputation if I hadn't already known them from prior dance or caller events.

Following the opening remarks, there was a schmoozing session at the bar. I chatted up a few people --including Dana, to get information about music licensing for the 2009 IAGSDC convention-- but creeping fatigue whisked me away to my room by 11 PM.
bjarvis: (Toronto city hall)
I was up relatively early. I haven't been sleeping well but no particular good reason. I suppose the small excitement of being back in Canada and seeing good friends again is a factor, but I would have thought being so exhausted would naturally lead to sleep. Not so.

If I couldn't sleep then I could at least do laundry. It's not exactly the same, but it needed to be done and I had some time to catch up on e-mail while the appliances were at work.

With my laundry done and myself through the shower, I said good-bye to my hosts, packed the car and headed west.

Traffic was light leaving Toronto: I had missed the worst of rush hour and since I was heading west, I was going against the bulk of the commuter flow anyway.

My first stop was in Cambridge to visit Sean & Bonnie and family. Sean and I went to high school together some 20+ years ago and was one of my best friends from that era long ago. Their daughter Kelsey just celebrated her 16th birthday; Graeme is 14 (I think). The last time I saw them, Graeme was just starting elementary school.


The kids and two of their friends wanted to go water skiing that afternoon so I joined Sean and the kids in the boat. Sean and I were able to catch up between the kids' wipeouts. I might have tried it myself but I really wasn't dressed or prepped for the adventure. I would have just embarrassed my ancestors, anyway.

Towards 4 PM, I hopped said my good-byes once again and drove the rest of the way to London for the mini-CALLERLAB convention.

The convention was being held at the Best Western Stoneridge Inn & Convention Center, a name almost larger than the building itself. Not that I have any complaints about the hotel itself: it was small but had all of the desired amenities, comfortable workspaces, nice rooms and a pretty good restaurant. I was in room 217, which seemed almost wasteful: I had an enormous king-sized bed in the most spacious room I've ever had in a hotel short of a suite. The only problem with my room is that the chair at the work desk was less than ideal but that's hardly a flaw on an otherwise perfect stay.

[livejournal.com profile] canseefour was handling the registration check-in. She's a natural for that task as I suspect she knows every square dancer in North America and a huge percentage of the rest of the planet. I was also happy to unload the rest of the Zip Coder magazines & subscription forms I was carrying at a table of brochures & pamphlets. [livejournal.com profile] canseefour even offered to take any leftover magazines & forms to the dancer convention later in the week.

Since I hadn't yet found time for dinner, I indulged in a sizable plate of chicken alfredo at the hotel restaurant before dashing off to the opening session of the convention.

The opening comments and information by Barry Clasper and John Marshall were cogent and brief --as they should be. The other guest panelists Bill Harrison and Dana Schirmer along with co-organizer Tim Crawford added some extra info about the value and services of CALLERLAB for the benefit of those not yet members, and I suppose a useful reminder to folks who were longtime members.

The conference itself was an intimate affair: we had about 30 registrants plus a few spouses. I knew nearly everyone by reputation if I hadn't already known them from prior dance or caller events.

Following the opening remarks, there was a schmoozing session at the bar. I chatted up a few people --including Dana, to get information about music licensing for the 2009 IAGSDC convention-- but creeping fatigue whisked me away to my room by 11 PM.
bjarvis: (plane)
I have just checked into the hotel in London. Alas, it's London, Ontario rather than London, England but it's all I could afford.

If anyone is looking for me, I'm at the Best Western Stoneridge Inn & Conference Center, 401 & Route 4 at the south end of town. I love the smell of free wifi in the morning... :-)
bjarvis: (plane)
I have just checked into the hotel in London. Alas, it's London, Ontario rather than London, England but it's all I could afford.

If anyone is looking for me, I'm at the Best Western Stoneridge Inn & Conference Center, 401 & Route 4 at the south end of town. I love the smell of free wifi in the morning... :-)

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