F 1 D 0 -- 02 09 09 at 15 30

Northern Lights.

I'd thought I'd seen the Aurora Borealis before. 

The curtains in the sky now and then? Sometimes
they're a different colour than you'd expect 
late at night? 

I'll endeavour to share what I saw a few 
nights back.  

We go along Memorial Avenue, a kind of
suburban main street, full of bars, and
their lighting.  In spite of that, Ann
notices that there is something going 
on in the sky. 

I'm driving, looking for a Scotiabank
teller machine. But we pull into the
Superstore's parking lot, which conveniently
has all of its lot lighting off.

I look up, and things are happening in 
the sky. Not clouds.

They looked like an assortment of straight
strings, or fibres. Bundles of fine sticks,
like a package of spaghetti dropped onto
the floor.

"Watch! It's changing", Ann coaxes.

I saw them fade, I saw something get bright.
Nothing too exciting, but glad to watch.

And then?

And then I notice that things are moving
very quickly in the sky. These bundles of
pasta are turning in 3-space, rotating. 

We see bright things happen on This horizon,
then suddenly something on That horizon. I
found it hard to focus on the whole thing.
I'd watch something turning, getting bright
and dark, and in the process, miss the action
in the east sky.

I was hoping it would do a lot of colour changes,
but we only saw the faintest white-to-beige transition.

In fact, the entire experience ended almost as
soon as we settled down. Yes, I pulled out a
Mexican blanket from the back of the truck so
we could lie down and watch without stressing.

This reminds me of Steven Spielberg's twenty year
anniversary of Close Encounters film. This is a
behind-the-scenes EasterEgg kind of film, appended
to the end of Close Encounters. It recounts the
memories of the main actors. The film was made in
1977, and the 20-year story was made in 1997, right?
Five years ago?

Spielberg tells of his own experience. His dad woke
him up as a five or six year old. "Get up! Get up!
We're going out!" "!-wh- What time is it?" "It's 
the middle of the night! Come on! Come on!"

And so his dad pulled him out of bed, and drove
him to this field, where the two of them could
watch this meteor shower. Every few seconds you'd
see this stream of light across the sky. That was
his introduction to Space and the Beyond, and what
he was trying to create in the Close Encounters scene.

Hey, I went to a group meeting at the Canada Games
Complex Sunday, September 08.  I didn't exactly know
what I'd be doing. I came prepared for anything.

What kind of anything?

I'm a dance guy. If someone said, "show us some dancing!"
even in jest, I was ready to lead Haymaker's Jig (an Irish
dance for 5 couples, even new ones. It has a hard strip-the-
willow figure, but the cooperation of the group makes it
still a good first dance), Childgrove (an English dance
with a calm portion and a lively portion. It demonstrates
how English dance is not this tame sleepy thing to do), 
Contradances (I brought a selection of dances, and was
ready to teach something with stars and and swings).

I also came with my own music, ready to lead a step
class, a floor class (now called a High Low class), and
a weight class.

In spite of that preparation, I was still so nervous.

This nervousness got worse when I saw all of the
people present. There were around forty people there.
Half were very young compared to me. Under 25? They
were taking Kinesiology at Lakehead. Some were new,
others had been in the program for a while, with one
girl who had graduated, and was trying to decide where
her career should take her.  The others were therefore
older than 25, with some who had been teaching at
The Complex for more than fifteen years!  

I was painfully aware of my physical appearance. It
doesn't matter that each of these participant/teachers
were feeling the same, as all aerobic teachers feel
they're too fat, too thin, too strong, too weak, too
soft, too hard, too ________.  Right, I know. But I
was one of two people there with a soft tummy, and 
who weigh in at over 200 lbs.

There were few men present. These were young men, and
all decidedly against being teachers. They were reticent
to speak, and primarily there because it was a requirement.
They were Weight Room Attendants: the guys who pick up
the bars and handweights from the floor, replacing them
where they belong.

After a little game, where we all had to introduce ourselves
informally, we got into a circle, and did it again, formally.

The business part of the meeting? WHMIS.  Workplace
Hazardous Materials Information System.

Yes, I know, these people will hardly 
ever get to see or handle any kind of
chemical or product with Canadian National Symbols of Doom.
Still, such a presentation was a requirement, and so everyone
had to read each word on the presentation, and to do a
short test.  The tests were kept, and were proof of our
attendance at this event.  

I learnt a few things about MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets):

If a product is decanted, or a label falls off, all workers
have to be prepared to re-label a container.

Most of the pictures describe the contents clearly. A gas 
canister for compressed stuff. A fire for combustible. The
trillium of semicircles for Bio Hazard. But I didn't know
what a T-with-dot meant, or a circle with fire around it.

This is a sample warning label. If you saw it, would it
mean anything to you? It has english, but it doesn't
decode the important symbols. 

The icon with a testtube and R is for Reactive Material.
It may not be corrosive (there's another picture for that!),
but it still has an effect when it touches you. Here is
an example: Fluorine products: they will etch glass they're
so effective, and even a small amount of it in toothpaste
prevents tooth decay (and causes cell disease).  Another
one would be pure detergents. When diluted, they do fine
as laundry or dish products. But when pure, they'll wash
all of the natural grease off of you.

But the one I really need to know is T-with-dot. This
is a product which is dangerous to you, but hurts you
downstream. It can cause allergic sensitivities, cancer
and other cell diseases, or respiratory problems. If you
see this on a label, don't open it to see how it smells.

The one with fire around a circle describes something
which supports combustion. So that would include products
which have a lot of free oxygen in them. I've heard that
chlorine has many properties of oxygen too: while it
doesn't burn, it supports combustion the something like
oxygen does. So if you see the CircleFire, don't smoke.

I went to the Canadian Government's site for WHMIS. It
has a lot of the legislation, including the sample I 
included above. But I was hoping to show you each of
the icons, so you'd be able to recognize them. Nope.
What kind of a web site only has some of the information?

EEEP! I may have not been able to browse to it, but
Google.ca was able to find it instantly. I searched
for WHMIS as always. But then I clicked the IMAGES
tab at the top, and here were all of the icons.

After the WHMIS part, we were to do three
mini classes of 20 minutes with each of three
leaders. Well, twenty minutes is a bit shy for
a group of active people. But someone decided an
hour should be reasonable, right?

Well, the coordinator for Parks and Rec, who
also leads classes, was just going to introduce
the three sections. Fooey on that! She decided to
warm up the group. For half an hour! She did fine.

With the same gusto, the next leader took the Hi Lo
section, no longer having to warm the group up, and
lead an hour of floor class. She had energy to spare.
I got stitches in my ribs at the end of it. I like 
getting thoroughly warn out during a class.

But the next leader did Power Yoga. She wasn't kidding.
We held a series of poses which required balance and 
lower body strength. We went through each form eight
times. I was melting.  And my buns hurt. This was good.

Our last leader prepared a workshop on Reebok's "Final
Cuts" system.  For a while, we were told to just isolate
all exercises. Just use the biceps to exhaustion. Then
use the triceps to exhaustion. Well, the Final Cuts
plan suggests combinations, so that we introduce the
bicep exercise, we then introduce the tricep exercise,
and then we do a combination of the two to exhaustion
in the class. This doesn't seem like a big surprise, but
the science and fads in exercise change too much. 

In fact, the Yoga leader said she's been through too
many fads. "Do sit ups. Don't do sit ups. Make it burn.
No pain no gain. Exercise shouldn't hurt. Everyone has
to be included. Make participants fill out an exercise
readiness form. Sigh. There is always something new,
something better. Except I don't think it's better at
all, but they make us teachers do it anyway, or else."

Oh! I want to tell you about firms who put 
everything but the stuff you need onto their 
web site. I remember making a complaint to 
Ann about this recently.

Lakehead has a policy about computer usage. Anyone who
attends the university has to be familiar with the Code
of Conduct for Computer Users. It is mentioned over and
over when you visit the website. So, do you think you
could actually FIND this list, this very important document,
which all students must agree to, online, anywhere?
I couldn't. I was just looking for a Lakehead Net Etiquette
page, so Ann could prepare something.

She had to introduce about 40 kids to university life
last week, as part of their mandatory orientation. What
they should expect, what professors expect, where the food
is, where the beer is; answers to important questions.

So in her binder, it made reference to this Computer
Etiquette. She was supposed to tell students -- what?
Again, not in her binder, not online.  

Editor's note: this may actually turn up the
instant I post this for you, so I could just be
ranting on.

It was a nice thought though: introduce the first 
year students to what is expected of them.  I just
liked how it was The Computer Department which didn't
actually publish its own rules.

That's all I know.

Light Faeries (Sanded 9)
Acrylic on Panel
by Amy Thibault, Elliot Lake, ON
at White Mountain Academy, 2002