Powell Street Festival

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At Oppenheimer Park, I fortified myself with a BBQ Salmon dinner and a spam musubi. Enthusiastic volunteers helped me set up my Story building workshop and brought families to participate, as a shamisen bluegrass band performed at the Diamond Stage. Nearby, people lined up to dress as giant sushi and sweaty people paraded a big ornamental omikoshi. I was privileged to read my picture book Peach Girl with poet and scholar Sally Ito on the Street Stage with announcers in English and Japanese. Heard Nisei jichans share internment stories, then Katie Malia joke about mixed expectations. So many Nikkei delights.

Kichirano Walking Tour

We had a sunny day and about a dozen people arrive on time for the Walking tour I was giving about the community of Japanese Canadians who lived in Kitsilano  before the Second World War. Hardly any buildings remain from that time because of redevelopment, so we rely on archival photos, stories and wit. Even though my family did not have direct connections to this neighbourhood I was still able to make connections between their experiences and those of others in this area. Some of the participants also shared their own knowledge, which made it an interesting opportunity for me.

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Scientific Spirit

Eddie Goldstein hopes for a society that values science by fostering a scientific spirit founded on curiosity and a belief that answers come from logic and evidence. He talked about how the OJ Simpson trial showed him how unscientific legal thinking was, that it was not about seeking truth but winning the case. Conversely, he fears that many people believe science, like law, has an agenda, and that facts are biased. For scientists who work so hard to address bias and speak cautiously about conclusions, this perception must be maddening. Meanwhile, communicators aiming for clarity might be losing some nuances.

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Science Cartooning

As part of a workshop on media in science storytelling at the BC science outreach conference, I did a little demo of making a science inspired comic. Three reasons for drawing science cartoons by hand are

1. It is visual. Our brains seem "drawn" to images.

2. Hand drawn images reflect personality and authenticity that seems lacking in photos and slicker illustrations. And it is less slick and intimidating.

3.  Humor, used judiciously, can help create a more benign atmosphere, especially useful if the audience seems intimidated by science.


I was reading Dan Roam's Show and Tell which describes four steps in thinking visually that I applied to making the cartoon.

1. Look, as in Look at what your options are. So I asked the audience for science subjects and got starfish, maggot, giraffe vocal chords, CRISPR.

2. See, as picking out relevant ideas. I think you could cover most subjects, but figured maggots provided the easiest for me to work on because it would an immediate reaction. (The giraffe vocal chords referred to an actual blog post I had done before, which was very touching to me). I have heard about CRISPR but had no clue how to draw it.

3. Imagine, as in Imagine possibilities. I asked for associations with maggots - decomposition, bird food, smell, flies, death, crime scene. And I imagined two maggots chatting over dinner. A book called The Humour Code suggests much Humour involves the convergence of a benign violation. The image of maggots in a rotting corpse is a violation of good taste perhaps. So I had them chatting in a very benign way.

4. Show, as in show what you're thinking. For efficiency, I did a single panel cartoon of two maggots having dinner in half a decomposing human head. I began with the maggots. In the workshop, I included eyeballs but in This is a revised recreation, I left them out. I figured showing part of the head would be the most obvious indication of a corpse, though it was still hard to get the scale approximated. I didn't bother with colors in the original although the wash helps differentiate areas in this version done with a Jot Pro stylus on my iPad in 53Paper.

 

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Ki-Chi-Ra-No Nikkei National Museum Walking Tour

Multi-talented Carolyn Nakagawa led an intriguing though chilly Ki-Chi-Ra-No walking tour, about the Japanese Canadians in Kitsilano before the War, near the Burrard St. Bridge, from before there was a Burrard St. Bridge. Men from Tottori working for a lumber company, gradually grew to about 1000 people, until they were all forcibly relocated in 1942. Nothing remains of the community that included a Japanese school, a Buddhist temple, and the Anglican Church where Joy Kogawa's father was a minister and pedophile. That side of Burrard is now lined with luxury car dealerships catering to rich Asians.

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Destination Imagination

I had the privilege and pleasure of volunteering as an Fine Arts appraiser for the regional Destination Imagination tournament. The challenge this year involved telling a story in which a color vanished from the world. The creativity and cooperation shown by the children was inspiring. Yellow and green seemed to be the most popular colors, symbols of optimism and growth. The tournament is their opportunity to perform and I help give feedback on their efforts after they have worked for months on their own. I hope that regardless of their outcomes, they enjoyed the process of learning along the way.

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Human Book

I got to be a human book on my alternative science-related career for some grade nine students. They were supposed to ask me questions and a few actually did. I told them about when I was in high school and our group attempted to make an energy resource exhibit, which was a brilliant idea that we were unable to execute. I hope that is not a metaphor for something. Also I told them about my high school teacher who looked like Vincent Price and ate a piece of mould growing on some bread he left out. That's inspiration.

Landscapes of Injustice Presentation @ VPL Jan. 14

I attended a presentation by Landscapes of Injustice, an extraordinary undertaking looking at the incarceration and dispossession of Japanese Canadians during the 1940s. It involves many grad students from various institutions, along with a council of Japanese Canadians from across Canada, some of whom spoke about their work and experiences. Involving people not personally connected to the events somehow makes it feel like this really was a significant episode in Canadian history and not just family history. Eiji Okawa, raised in Japan, looked at community records and his translation Japanese written at the time seems essential to understanding the Issei.

Picture Book Illustrator Steve Jenkins

I enjoyed seeing illustrator Steve Jenkins talk about his work at the Vancouver Children’s Roundtable Breakfast. He and his wife got into creating picture books from commercial art after having their own children. He was conscious of ways to differentiate his work from other similar books and artists. Mostly he illustrates animals with beautiful collages made from pieces of paper collected wherever he goes, including bits of paper wasp nest and pizza liner. He prefers using real materials over digital methods because he enjoys the process. His compelling art work is such a wonderful way to convey ideas and information. 

Canadian Science Centres Association Conference in Vancouver


I love the inspiring energy of meeting people with similar interests and enthusiasms at conferences. At this CASC conference, I presented on how I write a science blog, or at least the main points of it, based on my experience writing posts for Science World since 2008. It was a good experience to reflect on my practise and to receive feedback from the participants. I repeated my blurb for small groups of people and after a while was not sure if I had said something already or not. But at least by responding to questions I could address other issues.

 

My talk

My talk

Art in science centres. Maybe one day, I have cartoons on display. 

Art in science centres. Maybe one day, I have cartoons on display. 

Not actually what I expected, but at interesting program for at-risk youth involving sports and science. Reminded me of when I was a science coach at the Ailanthus Achievement Centre. Maybe they could connect to the Richmond Olympic Experience too. 

Not actually what I expected, but at interesting program for at-risk youth involving sports and science. Reminded me of when I was a science coach at the Ailanthus Achievement Centre. Maybe they could connect to the Richmond Olympic Experience too. 

Prototyping with visitors seems like an obvious thing to do, though you wonder how to make some cheap and easy that is close enough to give you relevant results. As in my writing group, it is helpful get get feedback and see if things meet your intentions. 

Prototyping with visitors seems like an obvious thing to do, though you wonder how to make some cheap and easy that is close enough to give you relevant results. As in my writing group, it is helpful get get feedback and see if things meet your intentions. 

Dealing with controversial topics might be one of the most interesting things that science centres can do, though often I think they avoid them altogether. Despite the ideals to provide a neutral ground for the presentation of science, funding realities can compromise perceptions, and, of course, people are not rational. 

Dealing with controversial topics might be one of the most interesting things that science centres can do, though often I think they avoid them altogether. Despite the ideals to provide a neutral ground for the presentation of science, funding realities can compromise perceptions, and, of course, people are not rational. 

I love designing games, though I don't do much of it now, I am intrigued by the ideas embedded in various kinds of games. If I'd been born forty years later I might be making games, but who knows, maybe an old dog can learn new tricks. 

I love designing games, though I don't do much of it now, I am intrigued by the ideas embedded in various kinds of games. If I'd been born forty years later I might be making games, but who knows, maybe an old dog can learn new tricks. 

I was familiar with his work though I haven't actually read them. He insisted that he was not opposed to tech, but that nature needs more advocates and that we need hybrid minds that are comfortable with computers and forests. I was intrigued and can believe, that he suggested a compelling vision of a nature rich future is more engaging and empowering than simply talking about the efficiencies of a sustainable world. 

I was familiar with his work though I haven't actually read them. He insisted that he was not opposed to tech, but that nature needs more advocates and that we need hybrid minds that are comfortable with computers and forests. I was intrigued and can believe, that he suggested a compelling vision of a nature rich future is more engaging and empowering than simply talking about the efficiencies of a sustainable world. 

Purple Dragon Black Belt Grading

Other families go to Florida to see Disney World, but my wife and I just spent four long days in Boca Raton witnessing our 11-year-old daughter sweat and strain through a Purple Dragon black belt ordeal for mind and body, with more than fifty other male and female candidates from five countries, from ten to sixty something, from black to white. She was lucky to have wonderfully supportive teammates and mentors. And I felt lucky to benefit from astoundingly encouraging, veteran parents. It has been an exhausting, emotional and memorable opportunity to see our girl struggle and succeed.

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Serendipity 2016

Thanks to the organizers from the Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable for a thought-provoking, inspiring day of children's writing Titans exploring the theme of Home and Away. 

 

Maggie deVries, Jean Little, Gregory Maguire, Cynthia Nugent, Kit Pearson, Sarah Ellis, M T Anderson. 

Maggie deVries, Jean Little, Gregory Maguire, Cynthia Nugent, Kit Pearson, Sarah Ellis, M T Anderson. 

Curious Collisions

Such a beautiful idea of bringing together people with diverse interests. Blind date between a painter into brains and a line following robot. Maybe you could make the robot follow a pattern that it paints? An artist in astronomical observatory. I wonder if I could do one at an Aquarium or science centre? A rocket scientist and a puppeteer collaborated to produce N-body pornography in two weeks. Awesomeness. I did my bit at open mic to tell them about the Science Borealis web site for Canadian Science blogs and in particular my interest in multimedia formats for science communications.

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Human Book

I enjoyed being a "human book" recently. I spoke to a series of grade nine students about my so-called career path, at least bits that related to science. I don’t know whether if they got anything out of me talking about myself and attempting to make sense of my life. It seems like such a good idea to have students meet people in different kinds of occupations to consider possibilities. I told them how I went to school before the Internet. Interestingly, they seemed to think life was better then because you could spend time with people in person.

 "Once upon a time, I melted fire bricks with a CO2 laser...

 "Once upon a time, I melted fire bricks with a CO2 laser...

Nerd Nite Live Science Cartoon

I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out because I was depending on the feedback of the audience. I let myself fall and they caught me. Turned out they had great ideas. Took the first few randomly picked suggestions and went by applause which ones to develop. I might have just refined it more on stage, but I wasn’t so familiar with the interface and stopped when they had the idea. They seemed to enjoy it and I could hear a lot of laughing. It was a really fun experience. I cleaned up the drawings and text here.

 

Animal Angst

Animal Angst

Sharing microbiomes

Sharing microbiomes