10 April, 2014

Paul Walker Stood Here

by Rick Unger & Matthew Veith
"Paul Walker stood here." This thought occurred to Rick as he stood by the workbench in Canadian Mennonite University's generator room.  He had just watched The Lazarus Project many of the interior scenes of which had been filmed at CMU back in the spring of 2007.  Throughout the movie he found himself excited to recognize areas of CMU in various scenes.

Rick - a Maintenance Technician at CMU - had a bit of an epiphany when the movie showed a prop telephone mounted to the wall by the workbench, and immediately he realized that phone was the reason for the mysterious screw in the wall in that location.  Not that random screws are all that mysterious, but he had noticed it before & wondered why it was there.  Later, while he was standing by that same workbench, Rick looked at the screw that the prop phone had been mounted to & noticed what had changed and what had remained the same since the movie was shot there. More significantly, Paul Walker, famous for his role as Brian O'Conner in the Fast & Furious movie series, had stood right there at the end of that same bench. The idea to photograph these same locations as they appeared in the movie, was born.

Sadly, at the end of November 2013, Paul Walker was killed in horrific car crash during a fundraising event for his charity, Reach Out Worldwide.  In the weeks that followed, stories of Paul's kindness & generousity came to light.  This made the idea of reproducing images of places where Paul had been at CMU, more poinent, and it was with the utmost respect to Paul & his family that Matt & Rick undertook this project.

The project began with Rick capturing dozens of still images of scenes from The Lazarus Project that feature areas of CMU.  He and Matt then selected a handful of these scenes to emulate.  The real challenge began as Matt & Rick had to pinpoint the locations the camera had been in, and the correct focal lengths it had been set at to shoot these scenes.  They then had to position Rick within those shots as close as possible to what Paul's positions had been.  These images are results of their efforts.

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18 January, 2014

Downhill Boating

Neighbours of my friend Curt bought a used utility trailer this past autumn.  The seller had posted it for a pretty good price, the only stipulation being, whoever wanted the trailer, had to take his old, plywood rowboat off his hands as well. Curt's neighbours agreed, so off they drove with a trailer & a rowboat.

Now, with one rowboat more than they'd cared to have, they started asking around among their friends to see if any of them would be interested in a free rowboat.  When I came over to Curt's place a few days later, he had already declined their generous offer, but he figured he'd let me know about the opportunity.

I have a number friends with cottages so I figured, sure, I'd take it & then pass it along to one of them.  So we made arrangements with Curt's neighbour & I took the boat home.

Now had I given just a little more thought before accepting the boat, I might have realized that  my friends all have cottages on very large lakes - Lake Manitoba & Lake Winnipeg to be specific.  These lakes are so large one can not see across them to the far shore.  Not surprisingly, my friends didn't relish the thought of their children getting blown out across the lake in a small rowboat, so they obviously didn't want it.

That left me thinking about alternative uses for the thing.  Winter was approaching... It is a rather sturdily built, flat bottom boat... Hmmm... Why not use for tobogganing?  So that is what we did.

Late in the evening of Christmas Day, my friends & I have a long standing tradition of going tobogganing at Omands Creek.  This year, I hauled out The ToBOATaggan!

It worked great! The boat has a shallow keel that keeps the thing moving down the hill in a lovely straight line.  That first night of use, the temperature was -11°C so the snow, which had been previously packed down by other tobogganers, was nice and hard.  If we were moving off too far in on direction, we could lean over the other way, which would shift the boat onto the other side of the keel, & we would make a nice gentle course correction.  It was a beautiful ride!

A couple of weeks later, we used the boat again for my church's youth group.  It was quite a bit warmer that day (around 0°C), so the snow was much softer, & therefore the keel dug deeper into the snow, making it a bit slower down the hill.  Even so, it still worked terrifically, and the kids had much fun using it!

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11 January, 2014

The Joy of Christmas Creativity!

Here's a fun little Christmas video my friends and I made in December.  Enjoy...

Robot Adventures on Planet Earth - Christmas! from Curtis L. Wiebe on Vimeo.

This is the second official video in the Robot Adventures on Planet Earth series (here's the first one), but it's Space Robot & Lif-Tor's first Christmas video together! Space Robot was featured in a previous Christmas video The Secondhandpants: Total Christmas of the Heart.

While we were setting up for this most recent video, I was inspired with an idea for a Christmas card.  Sending out Christmas cards is something I have only done twice before.  I think on average it works out to be every decade or so.

The first Christmas card I ever sent out was back in the early '90s, and featured a photo of me in my black velvet disco suit, with a disco ball, a sprig of mistletoe, and the caption "Merry Christmas, Baby."  If I can find the card, I'll scan it and edit it into this post.  In the mean time, here's a photo of me in my black velvet disco suit at a fairly recent formal attire bowling party - you'll have to imagine the rest yourselves.

The second Christmas card I sent out, was for Christmas 2000.  I was living in Indiana at the time, serving a three-year term with Mennonite Voluntary Service.  It was the end of my first year and I created a postcard photoshoped to look like I was at the south pole.  The text of the card was a very poorly redacted message describing a fictitious account of my settling in to my new life at the south pole.  However, any reference to the south pole appeared poorly erased and an actual account of my time in Indiana overwritten in an obviously different typeset, although the original text was still legible.  It also featured a stamp in the lower corner "Message Approved by the Witness Relocation Program."

Again, I'll have to dig around to see if I can find a copy of that to scan and then update to this post.

Here is my offering for this year (hopefully you've already watched the video so this won't be a spoiler for you at this point).

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09 December, 2013

What's Blue & Sticky? ME!!

My friend Curt and I have established a fine Halloween tradition over that past four or five years; we get together at his house in West Broadway, spend some time working on a creative project of some sort (usually a prop for a movie or some such thing), have supper, hand out candy in costume, and then watch a zombie movie.

This year, with just a couple of days until Halloween, I was feeling a bit pressed to come up with a costume.  I had considered fabricating a large plastic globe into a deep-sea diver's helmet but that would be too big a challenge to complete over the few evenings I had to work on it. Instead I pulled out a few lengths of electroluminescent wire and made myself this costume:

It used three 3-metre lengths of blue el-wire, each with its own power pack.  One length was enough for the legs and feet, another length made up the arms and hands, while the third piece was used for the face and spine.

I made the head out of a cheap Halloween mask from the dollar store, to which I taped a disc of cardboard covered in black paper.  The el-wire was then attached to that with clear packing tape (where I wanted it to be seen) and black gaffer's tape (where I wanted it to be masked).  The rest of the el-wire was simply taped to a black turtleneck, and a pair of black cargo pants using clear packing tape.

Just before my two young friends - the girls at the end of the video - came trick-or-treating, I went outside into a dark area beside the house and waited for them to come up the walk.  When they came into sight, I started waving to them and danced my way toward them. They were duly (and dually) impressed, reassuring me that it was indeed an effective costume!

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07 November, 2009

Southern Manitoba Road Trip & Koino's Woodcutter Retreat

Whenever my friend Conrad and I head out to camp for the weekend, we like to explore as many back roads as possible. On this occasion, we headed down very scenic highway 23, past the massive wind farm at St. Leon, Manitoba, and then off along gravel roads through the Pembina Valley. Once we got to the camp, we spent the rest of the weekend helping cut, split, & stack a year's worth of firewood at the camp's annual Woodcutter Retreat.

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27 December, 2008

Late Night Boxing Day Ride

Boxing Day 2008: Carl, Colin, Conrad, Mark, Orlando, & I headed out on another late night bike ride. We had originally intended to go cruising residential streets to look at all the Christmas lights, however we ended up spending most of the ride down on the frozen Assiniboine River.

When we were tobogganing at Omand's Creek the night before, we noticed that the skating trail on the river has been cleared already. It still needs a bit of work before it'll be ready for skating, but it looked perfect for cycling on. The weather was perfect for spending time outside! After a long bout of cold weather, it was great to have things warm up to -12°C.

All six of us were quite festooned with lights. Several of us are now sporting Planet Bike Super Flash Rear Lights, which are incredibly bright! Orlando had just mounted a pair of insanely powerful Planet Bike Blaze 1 Watt LED Headlights on his bike. You'll definitely know which is his bike in the opening of the video.

We began our ride in the heart of Wolseley, and we headed west to Omand's Creek where we accessed the Assiniboine River. After exploring how far west the river trail has been cleared so far (nearly up to the Route 90 overpass), we headed back to Omand's creek then up & over the pedestrian/train bridge to Wellington Crescent. The sound of Christmas music lured us up Ash Street which we took before heading east on Kingsway Avenue, which ends back at Wellington as well as the river by Munson Park.

We took a quick spin through the park, a short jaunt east on the sidewalk of Wellington to the Hugo Park dock to access the river once again. We rode the ice down to The Forks; the furthest east we ventured. By this time we had acquired a bit of a thirst & appetite so we headed back up the river to Osborne to go to Papa George's for a late night snack. Following that, it was a quick ride back to our starting point in Wolseley.

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13 October, 2008

New Trike Video

My friend Colin & I just finished building a custom tricycle for a woman in Tucson Arizona. It's an upright, tadpole configuration, making it a great ride for people with or without mobility issues. We are going to build three more; one for me, one for Colin, and one extra for anyone who needs it!
(music: 'Low Rider' by Son of Dave)

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