Home from Banff!

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I have safely arrived home from Banff – didn’t miss the bus, despite arriving back from a shopping trip ten minutes before I was supposed to leave for Calgary. Whoops! Things learned while at Banff:

Flex meal plans can run in the negative.

Elk are scary.

It will always be colder than you thought.

Usable wireless signals in Lloyd Hall don’t extend past the first floor.

The staff at the Banff Centre are fabulous.

The artists are equally fabulous.

And you will never bring warm enough clothes.

Have dinner at the musicians’ table.

Overall, it was a good, productive trip. I got a pretty decent start on the story, and had a chance to relax and unwind. The story was supposed to be a separate entity – a way to get acquainted with the characters and the setting. I figured I would do the story first, and then get going on a novel. But the more I’ve been working on this story, the more I’m thinking that it’s something more like a preface to a novel.

Seems to be a good thing. It’s always interesting to see the evolution of an idea, and a story.

On a different note, I wanted to mention Subtle Technologies. It’s a conference held in Toronto. Here’s their blurb:

Subtle Technologies is an annual, four-day multidisciplinary event exploring the complex and subtle relationships between art and science.

Subtle Technologies’ mandate is to blur the boundaries between art and science, presenting symposia, exhibitions and performances that juxtapose cutting-edge artistic endeavours and scientific exploration.

The next event is from May 26-29, 2005. Anybody going? I’m seriously thinking that I may want to go and see the conference. Toronto in May is nice – warm – and last year’s topics looked quite interesting. I added myself to their mailing list…will post about it as more information becomes available.


Saturday again

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I think the recurrent blue screen crashes have something to do with IRQ channel usage. I actually managed to read the entire message before the laptop wanted to reboot, and googled when things were back up and running. My guess is that listening to music recorded with SonicStage is conflicting with something else. Looking at my system profile, it seems that a lot of things are sharing channel 11. Have no idea what this means. Probably not anything spectacularly bad, but it’s disconcerting to have system errors without really knowing why.

So: the quick fix for now is to avoid listening to music and surfing the web at the same time, because the D-Link card uses channel 11, as does the internal Centrino card and a host of USB things.

The weather is still odd. Very windy last night – the musicians were walking down to Banff to go to a free concert that some of them were playing, so I tagged along. Apparently, it was so windy in Banff that officials were asking people to beware of falling trees in the park. Didn’t see anything like that, though I was almost beaned by a falling pinecone.

Came back and finished knitting a pair of socks for my niece that are very posh looking. I called my parents to assure them that I’m still alive and not about to run off and join a band. I think they’re surprised that I’m having such a good time (the last residency, two years ago, was a bust and I wanted to leave early). And no, I’m not drinking or partying…in fact, I’m usually back in my room for the night by about nine thirty or so. The party scene lost its appeal years ago.

I think it’s because there are a lot of people like me out here. People who are introverted and thinking strange things, and can have dinnertime discussions about composers and the best way to pick up a date at yoga, and then go right on to talking about pieces for prepared piano and if we should stay for the Brahms portion of the evening’s concert (not everybody did – I came back early to work/knit, and a couple of other people came back to practice or work).

It wouldn’t be fair to say that there’s no snobbery or cliques here. There is…there would have to be, I think, in any kind of artists’ centre. But there’s a general air of acceptance for oddity and a kind of band-camp atmosphere. Most of us are here to work, and we’re all doing our own things. Nobody pulls a funny face or laughs if you’re a writer or a poet, or a musician…or whatever. To have so many ‘arties’ concentrated in one spot is pretty unique, I think, because I’ve never really seen it anywhere else.

At any rate…I’ve had a great week, and yeah, I’m ready to go home (must do laundry!). I definitely could have stayed longer, I think, though I won’t regret only coming for the week. It’s time to go back to Calgary and resume the normal routines.


More from Banff

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Dad’s getting his blog up and running. At the moment, it’s hosted on Blogspot, but I think he’ll probably move it over. Not sure. But go and visit!

The weather in Banff unexpectedly changed to warm, but the forecast is calling for cold and snow for the weekend. I’m learning that the weather in Banff is much like it is in Calgary: unpredictable at best. I went to see a Leighton Studio this morning with the Argentine playwright, Matias Feldman. The studio is fantastic…now I want to apply for a Leighton residency. I don’t think I have enough standing in my field to do it yet, though. But I hope the time will come.

Got to hear part of his new play, too – in translation – which was very cool. I haven’t run into too many writers yet, as the place seems to be crawling with musicians, so the chance to sit and talk about writing was very much welcome.

Pics. Well, I haven’t taken quite so many lately, but here are a couple more:

Sunset a couple days ago:

and the next morning:

It seems like this week has really gone by quickly. I should have come for longer; I’m sure of that now. At times, I feel completely out of my league…don’t know the music that’s discussed at dinner, the writers that are mentioned, don’t travel or tour or have a grad degree. On the other hand, I think I’m something of an enigma to the musicians, who seem to think that I’m ‘not like’ the other writers they’ve met…but in a good way. So not being artsy to the extreme isn’t a terrible thing…I like to think of myself as being pretty down to earth. Seems to fit with me working on urban fantasy instead of literary fiction.

Two and a half more days left. It’s been really great so far.


Update report

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O-o-kay. Lesson learned. When posting from the library, and cannot get any sound from the laptop, reboot before you get a blue screen and a ‘dump’ report. Not sure what happened or why, but a complete power down seems to have solved the problem. Talk about scary…having weird things happen on the laptop when dad (aka tech support) is several hundred kilometers away!

As I was saying…I am pretty much settled into Banff, and things are going well. Have actually managed to get some work done, which is encouraging. The wireless signal is much better this morning, too.

Yesterday, I woke up to snow and the sound of the sidewalk being cleared. As you can see, it was pretty:

but chilly:

And frosty:

The snow stopped about mid-afternoon. It’s incredible to see how quickly the landscape was transformed – if you compare today’s pics to yesterday’s, you’ll see what I mean. Though the difference is more marked if you’re actually here.

It’s dark here at night.

Seriously, though, not that dark. The camera can’t pic up the lights from the Donald Cameron Hall, across the road. The lights on the pine trees are nice…makes the view pretty at night.

I had dinner last night with a playwright from Argentina, a composer from Washington, and a performance artist from Toronto. You’d think the conversation would have been more artsy, but we ended up talking about how easy it is to be all lonely and sad (except for the musicians – they seem to make friends or have friends wherever they go) and how we’d all whacked ourselves on the deadly floating shelves in our rooms (which are situated over the desks, with the corner right above the baseboard outlet you’d normally plug a laptop into).

Quite fun. I’m making decent progress on the story, which is excellent.


Arrived. Snowing. Cold.

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Finally! I arrived in Banff yesterday, after a long, bumpy bus ride. There were all of five people on a huge coach bus, so we managed to space ourselves out fairly well. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all – just long, and I was cold.

Arrived and managed to haul my bag to my room without being mauled by elk or wild squirrels. I actually only saw two elk on the way in, but I’m pretty scared of them. Those buggers. I’m sure they could do nasty things to you if they wanted.

As you can see, I managed to get some sock knitting done on the trip:

And this is the obligatory picture of my id card. I must admit – the card is rather loud in announcing a person’s status here. ARTIST. I’m not sure if I feel quite that way, but, hey…it’s nice:

This is the view from the room. Rather scenic!

Feeling that all was right with the world, I turned the laptop on. Horrors!

I’m of the opinion that no wireless constitutes a cruel situation to find one’s self in. Surely. What made it worse was that late in the evening, a public network appeared on the list of available networks…but could not connect. The nearest access point is here in the basement, in the Paul D. Fleck library. I took myself down to the writer’s lounge and discovered another wireless-less person huddled in the hallway, having found a spot that seemed to pick up a signal. Didn’t last, though, and I didn’t want to push her over to take the magical signal point.

On my way back to the room, a guy passing by commented that there seemed to be a wireless signal in the first floor lobby. It was a bit too late to go down and try.

But. This just proves something: I’m not the only one dragging my laptop around with a forlorn expression. Wireless! Give us wireless!

(ps: this connection is so shoddy that I’m afraid to run a spellcheck. So if there are typos…well…sorry.)

(another postscript, as I edit out embarrassing typos: I’m happy that I can at least get this crummy signal. At least I don’t have to sit at a public terminal – they have those plastic covers over the keys. Yuck!)