2016 Year in Review

A lot of people on social media couldn’t wait for 2016 to be over because, they believed, 2016 encompassed more than the usual number of unfortunate events for one year.

I haven’t checked but I’m pretty sure 2016 wasn’t worse than any other year. Of course, last year there were a couple of pretty impactful events. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America (Endpire1) are, no doubt, going to have lasting consequences.

However, for me, 2016 was one of the best years of my life and it flew by so fast, I can hardly believe it. The biggest highlight of course being that in 2016, Andrea and I got married.

Here’s a quick recap with links to a few of the blog posts I made last year:

  • Teaching in Brocket for Alberta Works — I loved that job and feel a real connection with my students
  • Presented at SWATCA — my first time presenting at a conference, was very happy with the glowing reviews.
  • Sascha — after a long and happy life, sadly, Saschi had to be euthanized.
  • Hutterite Colony — rounding out my Southern Alberta teaching experience, my time on the colony won’t soon be forgotten. I felt a great connection with the kids and the rest of families there. They treated me both as family and as an important part of their community. I felt bad leaving them for…
  • Teaching New Media in Taber at W.R. Myers — Even though I was hired to continue next year (temporary) at the colony, my dream-job (probationary turning to permanent) came up and I had to take it.
  • Drone Fair — attending the first Drone Fair in Calgary with my brother was a chance for us feel more like we did when we were kids. I loved hanging out and chatting while learning about remote controlled aircraft. It was a super fun weekend and he even came home with a new drone.
  • As a summer job, I was thinking about door-to-door sales for the home security/home automation company, Vivint. I did a bit of training with them and though excited about the product and the opportunity, in the end some cultural differences gave me second thoughts.
  • Summer in Waskesiu (Prince Albert National Park) — great time on the lake but I only caught one fish all summer.
  • Our riverside wedding — Nestled in next to the gorgeous South Saskatchewan River, we said our vows and got married in front of friends and family.
  • Started my new job at Myers — teaching New Media, Finance, Animation, Computer Science, and CALM. I feel so lucky my teaching career is finally taking off.
  • New Teacher Conference — travelled to Calgary for some professional development. First time travelling for work.
  • Adobe Education Exchange Classes – honoured to be recognized for my artwork
  • Visiting family in Medicine Hat and Saskatoon for the holidays

Here’s hoping 2017 will bring many more great memories (and more blog posts).

1. As far as I know, I just coined the term “endpire” — meaning the end of an empire. Hopefully it catches on.

Iconography

Lately, I’ve been taking part in online courses from the Adobe Education Exchange. My latest class, Graphics and Illustration, asked us to represent a movie using just four simple icons. Here’s my attempt:

This assignment was a lot of fun. At first I wondered what I could possibly make but then instead of worrying about picking a story that would be too hard to make icons for, I just thought of a story that I really liked and went for it.

I wanted to keep all of the line sizes the same but when I got to the dragon in the forth icon, I ran into issues with such thick lines in a small place and decided to have secondary lines at half the thickness. I like how it turned out.

Update: I was just recognized with a “Special Mention” award for notable artwork in this week’s class. I’m very excited because it’s something that I’ve been striving to achieve.

Adobe Weekly Winner icon

The Fight to Save America from Backmasking

Just in time for Halloween, a fantastic article by Bryan Gardiner on the history and belief in backmasking, The Fight to Save America From Satan’s Subliminal Rock Messages.

After circulating pamphlets with the “backward masked” declarations spelled out, that’s precisely what Assemblyman Phillip Wyman and panel witness William H. Yarroll II did. The relevant portion of the eight-minute classic was first played forward for committee members and then reversed. Here’s what Wyman claimed could be heard: “I sing because I live with Satan. The Lord turns me off. There’s no escaping it. Here’s to my sweet Satan.” Yarroll, who identified himself as a “neuroscientist,” noted that a teenager need only listen to “Stairway to Heaven” three times before these backward messages were “stored as truth.”

The Bad Review Revue

The Girl on the Train: “My advice: disembark.” — Mike McCahill, MovieMail

Masterminds: “It’s just smart people acting like dumb people in a dumb movie.” — Matthew Lickona, San Diego Reader

Blair Witch (2016): “Even if there were no witches in the world, these idiots would probably get taken out crossing a busy street.” — Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

The Dressmaker: “‘The Dressmaker’ is only sew-sew.” — Stephen Whitty, New York Daily News

Suicide Squad: “The result is not so much Suicide Squad as Death by a Dozen Disappointments Squad.” — Christopher Lawrence, Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Rebel in Me

Things are finally coming together in my teaching career. Last June I was hired to teach high school New Media at W.R. Myers in Taber, Alberta! This was my goal when I went back to school and I just have to say, now that I’ve started, it feels great when a plan comes together.

The Myers’ sports teams are known as The Rebels and while I’ll always be a MHHS Mohawk / U of L Pronghorn, I think working here kind of makes me a Rebel too.

Malletball

Yesterday afternoon in the park, we helped celebrate our friend Thomas’s birthday with a potluck and games. I played some chess, had my hand injured in a slack-line tightening incident (I’m fine), didn’t come in dead last at croquet, and ate some of the best devilled eggs and broccoli salad I’ve ever had. By all accounts, it was already a great afternoon, but then something amazing happened.

Thomas pulled out a volleyball and together with five others of us armed with croquet mallets, we spontaneously created the new lawn game and soon to be sensation, “Malletball”.

It was amazing how simple and yet complex the game was from the start. We cordoned off a small section of the park, using croquet gates to mark goal posts. We felt that it would be too difficult to score if one could just block with his body, but what would be the punishment if you did block? I came up with the idea that it should be a point for the other team if the ball touches you and Thomas added then that it would be five points for a goal. So quick; so perfect.

Probably the most amazing part was that despite swinging mallets at each other nobody got hurt. As long as Matthew’s smashed thumb doesn’t count as somebody. There were a few near misses. One time I raised my mallet up over my head to stop a flying ball, the end of the mallet unscrewed and came tumbling down nearly grazing my head… resulting in the birth of the no high-sticking rule.

Some other interesting developments, Thomas invented a way to juggle the ball in the air, I created a fairly inspiring “behind the back” maneuver, not to mention the ways we learned to flip the ball up to a teammate to try and hit it at an unsuspecting opponent. (Though it is easier said than done).

The teams were very even. We decided to finish at 100 points, and the final tally was 100 – 94. I can’t wait to try it again, perhaps with hockey nets next time.

Malletball

The Bad Review Revue

The Huntsman: Winter’s War: “The script lifts so much plot from Disney’s animated Frozen that it could qualify as a remake. No one sings “Let It Go,” but my advice to audiences is to do just that.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

The Boss: “Did they set out to make an even worse movie than 2014’s Tammy? Well, they did-crude, cruel, coarse and laughless.” Jim Lane — Sacramento News & Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: “The film’s only other notable ingredients, sadly, are the most rumbling soundtrack since Earthquake, a lot of jaw grinding by Ben Affleck, some narrative confusion remarkable even by director Zack Snyder’s standards, and… hours and hours of your time.” Stuart Klaxons — The Nation

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2: “Here’s an invitation to decline.” Linda Cook — Quad City Times

Meet the Blacks: “The movie as a whole is such an incompetent train wreck, you can’t look away, just to see how much worse it can get.” Christy Lemire — RogerEbert.com