Monthly Archives: November 2013

INTRODUCING. . . Sweethearts of the Galaxy

Sweethearts of the Galaxy is a brand new webseries starring my favourite cosplay artist, Tallest Silver and her best friend Kit Quinn.

If you don’t know about the art of cosplay, you haven’t been paying enough attention to my blog or my Tumblr. Shame on you!

The term cosplay is an amalgam of “costume” and “play” but these two ladies are very serious about their craft. Their costumes are very detailed and they embody all sorts of characters in creative and fascinating ways.

This webseries revolves around the fact that Kit Quinn starts to believe that she actually is the character she was merely pretending to play. And hilarity ensues.

I’m looking forward to seeing these two ladies every week for the next little while. Now, shush! \The show is starting.

Jet Aircraft Museum

The Jet Aircraft Museum is located at London International Airport in London, Ontario, Canada. I visited the museum for the annual Doors Open London in September and had a great time.

This is the T-33 577 Mako Shark. I got to see it taxi and then take off.

And while I took in the other sites and attractions, the plane did some maneuvers overhead. It kept looping around in a sort of one-plane air show. It was great.

Inside, you could try your hand at some realistic flight simulators. These planes are quite difficult to pilot.

This single prop two-man plane came in for a landing and taxied right up to the yellow rope. It was loud and glorious.

I’ve also had the chance to visit The Warplane Heritage Museum, in Hamilton, Ontario.

Here is a little more info about the London museum . . .

The Jet Aircraft Museum (JAM) exists to create and maintain a dynamic and living history of the modern age Royal Canadian Air Force and to provide permanent honour for those valiant Canadian men and women who flew these aircraft with distinction in periods of war, peace, and peace keeping.

JAM is a not for profit foundation that has as its primary purposes the acquisition, display, preservation, maintenance and, most importantly, providing in flight demonstrations for the people of Canada now and for generations to come.

The JAM mission is to combine the creation and operation of museum housing: aircraft, historical artifacts, records, and salient memorabilia, while simultaneously keeping representative historic aircraft in the air whenever and wherever major aviation events are held across Canada and at appropriate international centres.

A Warm Up That Pays Off

I normally have some kind of class warm-up, whether it be a line of music, the Bb Scale, or playing a pattern that I write on the board.

So today, when I asked my students to play this pattern on the third note of their Bb Scale, they didn’t bat an eye.

I then had them play quarter notes in this pattern.

They looked at me like I’d asked too much. I don’t normally have them bounce around with the notes much for this kind of warm-up, but they did it.

Next, I had them put both parts together.

They needed to repeat the first portion two times in a row and then finish the line.

Most of them figured out what I was having them do. They realized that we had just played “Jingle Bells” and that I had kind of tricked them into playing it.

I asked my students to figure out the rest of the piece by ear. I gave them two minutes to do so. I then handed out the sheet music so we could play it together.

You can find all sorts of great music for band at MusicEdMagic. My students really enjoyed playing this piece. It is completely in unison and really easy to play. It’s the kind of piece that lets them achieve success fairly quickly.

There are many other Christmas Carols for band available for you to print off right now. There are several other songs there as well. It is a great resource just like this weekly series.

Thanks for stopping by and remember to come back each week for Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive (Close to 200 tips and counting)

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary TONIGHT!

I am so excited! Today, I get to see the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who. And I will be doing so in a movie theatre full of like-minded fans.

The last time something like this happened, was the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation. There was a special screening of it at Toronto’s Skydome.

Yes, I was there. The energy was incredible and we made history. I don’t think that a television episode had ever been aired in a stadium before. It was like being at a championship game. We were so loud and enthusiastic. It was such a great night!

Tonight, is equally exciting. I am really looking forward to seeing David Tennant reprise his role as The Doctor. Of the 13 actors to ever don the role, he is by far my favourite.

Hopefully, I will see you at the cinema for another groundbreaking television event.

This is going to be epic!

Go Cats Go! Take Home that Cup!

My hometown team plays in the Grey Cup today!

I am really excited about this game. It’s been a long time since we have been in position to win the CFL title.

I went to a Grey Cup game once before. We hosted the championship game back in 1996. It was a crazy game.

That game is now referred to as “The Snow Bowl” and it was one of the coldest games ever played in the Canadian Football League.

The snow never let up. The field was almost always covered in white. They had to shovel the ten yard markings at every opportunity so the players would know where the field actually was.

It was a lot of fun being at the big game even though the home team wasn’t represented that year. We did win the cup three years later, however.

And this year, I have a strong feeling that our time has come once again.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be victorious!

I will be cheering them on from the comfort of the couch at my brother’s house. And you can bet, that we will be loud and proud!

A Birthday Cookie for Dad

Chase, Wally, Richie, and the Cookie-Cake

My dad didn’t have a sweet-tooth in his body. It was one of those little mysteries in life that was just unfathomable to me, and something I definitely didn’t inherit from him.

As a kid, I thought every birthday party needed a cake. The only problem was that my dad didn’t like cake. So, one year, my brother and I got really creative.

We cooked peanut butter cookies (a family favourite) and we stuck a candle in the biggest one.

My mom dug up this photo for the display she made for the service we had last month. It’s a classic family moment that I wanted to share with all of you.

My dad looks impressed with his birthday surprise. My brother’s expression is hilarious. That was a great day!

I have so many great memories that I will always cherish. This is just one of them.

Dad, you were the best! I miss you so much!

Darth Vader Unleashed

Star Wars: Darth Vader and The Ghost Prison

This story takes place shortly after the events in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and approximately nineteen years before Episode IV A New Hope. 

Darth Vader is a ruthless villain and is unleashed on the pages here in a way we have never seen before.

The story revolves around an ambitious soldier in the newly formed Galactic Empire. He is in awe of Darth Vader’s power and presence and seeks to become his apprentice. Of course, there is only one way this story could turn out, and it doesn’t disappoint.

My 2013 Reading Log (40 titles and counting)

Please, No More Indoor Recess

Our school has a tradition of going to the downtown Cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremonies every year.

It was lightly raining and a little bit chilly last week, but we didn’t let that stand in our way. The entire student body still attended the service.

We got there about ten minutes early and all-in-all we were out in the rain for about an hour. The primary choir even sang a song as part of the service.

I was surprised at how well-behaved all of the students were. They were quiet and reserved, just like you would expect for such a somber occasion. No one complained that it was raining either.

The whole experience made me think about how we handle rainy days at school. Most of the time, we don’t allow the students to go outside for recess when it is raining. We keep them in the classroom and those days seem exceptionally long.

I don’t think we need to stow ourselves away on those rainy days. We should expect our students to come dressed for the weather and to go outside for the 15 minute recess period. We can allow them about five minutes to get ready on these days so they are really only out in the elements for 10 minutes. This should not be a problem.

Of course, there are days where it might be best to keep our students inside. But we can assess those on a case by case basis. When the rain is hammering down, the winds are extreme, or it is frigidly cold, we can make an exception. For the most part though, the students should assume that they will be going outside. They can take some responsibility for being prepared to do so by dressing appropriately.

I know that I usually offer a tip, trick, or lesson you can use in your classroom, but I wanted to open up some discussion here today.

What happens at your school?

Do you think outdoor recess should be the norm with very few exceptions made throughout the year?

Teaching Tip Archive (Great ideas to use in your classroom)

Vansittart Woods Nature Trail

Vansittart Woods trail

Vansittart Woods is a wildlife protection area in Blanford, Ontario.

The Thames Valley District School Board uses this site as an outdoor education centre for its students, but you can use the trails easily enough by obtaining a permit.

Vansittart Woods

The trail is fairly flat and runs through the forest alongside a busy highway.

Leaf-covered Vansittart Woods path

This is the first trail that I have ran where the sounds of the city didn’t fade away the further I got into the bush.

These woods run alongside the Woodstock portion of Highway 401. I was surprised to actually see the highway when I was about halfway through my 5 kilometer run this afternoon.

Vansittart Woods floating dock

This floating dock is really nice. I love the autumn colours reflected in the water.

I have never taken up cross-country skiing but apparently this is one of the best places in the area for that winter sport.

The trail wasn’t very well labeled as I started my journey today. This was the first marking I came to, so I decided to start following the red trail.

It joined the blue trail and I followed that one back to the start. It turned out to be about a 3 kilometer route. So I turned around and ran portions of it again.

Next time, I come here, I won’t join the blue trail so quickly. There is much more to explore here. It runs for 8 kilometers. I didn’t even see half of that today. I will be going back soon.

Browse My Trail Collection

Know Your History 47 – Rest in Peace, Dad!

I wanted to honour and pay tribute to my father in a meaningful way. He was always a positive influence in my life and supported me in all of my musical endeavours. I wouldn’t be actively involved in hip-hop if it weren’t for him. So, for this edition of the show, I decided to look at the history my father and I have in hip-hop music and culture.

The first half hour is Episode 47 of my monthly documentary series Know Your History. I kick things off with Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s T.R.O.Y (They Reminisce Over You) and bookend the show with Thug Life’s Pour Out a Little Liquor. These songs can help us all cope with our grief and mourn for a loss.

I also play one of my old songs that has my brother and I trading lyrics back and forth. Out of all of the songs I recorded, it was my dad’s favourite.

You might be surprised to know that he was also a fan of Tone Loc. He would always perform Funky Cold Medina at karaoke night. I am really going to miss going to karaoke with him. It was always a blast.

After 30 minutes of Know Your History, I spin some great tunes for the remainder of the hour.

Pete Rock & CL Smooth – T.R.O.Y.
Reach – How to Fish
Mission 5 – Nameless
Tone Loc – Funky Cold Medina
Thug Life – Pour Out a Little Liquor
Vietnam / Wordsmith / Street Child – Move the Crowd
Dex Amora – Who I Be
MKV & Concept – The Path
Mic Boyd – Brighter Side
Tassnata / Elzhi / Adam Bomb – Heavyweights
Deltron – The Return
Dynasty – Street Music

Press play, enjoy the show, and pay tribute to my dad. I appreciate being able to share some of these memories and all of these songs with all of you. Thanks for listening!