Monday, June 25, 2007

Differential Aptitude Tests in Action

In Grade 9, my classmates and I took a series of multiple choice tests that supposedly held the very keys to our futures. We were solemnly told by our Health Education teacher that, should we (for example) want to be a high-end fashion designer when we grew up, we'd best be scoring high on the Space Relations battery. Likewise, if we had set our hopes and dreams on being a Junior High Health Education Teacher when we were older, we should really try to ace the.... um, 'Health' section of the test. (An aside: There was no 'health' section to complete, but I'm sure our teacher tried to tie in his own Differential Aptitude scores from fifty years earlier with his current career path. He was just that sort of teacher. Dustin D: 'The world, she's a round!" It was him.)

Anyway. Despite having taken those dreadful tests over a decade ago, I still remember them clearly. I remember the stress of the timed exams and feeling the weight of the professional world bearing down on my fourteen-year-old shoulders. I remember the Spelling Test, and how I decided that 'muslin' was spelled incorrectly, only to find out literally the day after that it was a type of fabric, not something pertaining to the religion, law, or civilization of Islam as I had thought when I marked my answer down in HB pencil. (CURSE THOSE MUSLIN CURTAINS!!) But mostly, I remember the agonizing frustration and the crushing defeat associated with one test battery in particular: Space Relations.

The Space Relations section of the test was designed to measure my ability to visualize 3D objects from 2D pictures. The first questions weren't so bad: they depicted a simple pattern, like a rectangular box unfolded and laid flat on a table, and we had to decide which of four pictures best resembled what the box would look like when it was put together. It was only when the box patterns started getting more irregular, decorated, and complicated that I ran into extreme difficulties.

I had a horrible time trying to figure out which face of the box some dots or lines would end up on when a particular box pattern was put together. And I couldn't for the life of me decide if the 45-degree section of the box would come out on the left or the right side of the box when it was done, try as I might to fold that box together in my mind. When it was all over, I felt utterly deflated. Gone were any dreams I had of being a Fashion Designer, Engineer, or Architect. Gone also were my more realistic goals of working in a shoe store or anything like that when I became a full-fledged high school student-- god forbid I not be able to put the damn box together!

When the test scores came back, we spent an entire class period colouring in our own percentiles on a bar graph to indicate our aptitude for each section. (Looking back, I'm pretty sure it cost extra to have the test scores graphed on a computer for us. Hence, the pencil crayons and cheap student labour.) Most of my test scores were extremely high: 99th percentile in spelling, 98th in math, a couple of 97s and 96s for the grammar sections and even the practial reasoning section. One test battery stood out in particular, though: The Space Relations bar was like a little rotten stump in the midst of my graceful Amazon-esque trees. My score for that section put me in the 60-somethingth percentile. I was humiliated.

Fast forward to the other day: all of the insecurities and frustrations I experienced back in my youth came flooding back, as Marty and I endeavoured to build a lantern for the exciting Luminara Festival. When we first signed up as 'installation artists' for the event, we were picturing making a paper box of sorts, hanging it from a stick, and perhaps drawing a little symbol on one side. However, it turns out we're a lot more invested in the lantern building aspect of the show than we expected. Take, for instance, these photos:

Is it clear from these photos that the lantern we're building is over 6 feet tall?! And did you know that we're building this mammoth lantern from one of Marty's thumbnail sketches that measures around... oh... 2 inches tall?! Marty was all excited to get started and to turn his tiny brainchild into a giant bamboo frame. On the other hand, I was panicking. This would be the ultimate Space Relations test. And it, too, would be timed.

Our lantern has to be ready to light (and float!) by July 14th, though the festival itself takes place on the 21st. I'll keep posting photos of our progress as we get closer and closer to completion... if I don't implode from all of the stress that making a giant, irregularly-shaped box out of a little picture is creating for me. Deep breaths, Dana-- deep breaths.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Around the World in 80 Days

I know it hasn't quite been 80 days since my last post... but it certainly feels like it's been a long time! Where have I been, you ask? Oh, you know-- I've mostly been withering away at my two jobs (which I'm becoming more and more frustrated with), but I've also traveling around the world vicariously. Thank God for swaps!

First Stop: India

Recently, I received another package through the Gimme Your Stuff set-up. This time, the package was from India, and let me tell you-- it gave me some serious wanderlust cramps! The lovely Anuja sent me glorious wall hangings, gilded decorations and toys, and icons-- lots and lots of icons!

Once again, everything about the package was perfect. (Thank goodness! That first package I received was so disappointing!) It will take Marty and I about ten zillion years to be able to afford a trip there, so until we can actually get to India ourselves, Anuja's thoughtful package will tide us over nicely.

Next stop: The Centre of the Universe!

To ring in Solstice, the ever-romantic Marty whisked me away to nothing less than the Centre of the Effin' Universe! (An aside for a geeky confession: I LOVE Science Centres and Planetariums, despite having only taken a total of one (yes, one) science course in all of my six years of university studies.) The Centre of the Universe/Dominion Astrophysical Observatory did not disappoint. We toured the Plaskett Telescope, took in the informational and interactive displays, and were even treated to our own private planetarium show.

We happened to be the only visitors to the Centre that evening-- curse the cloudy sky!-- so the poor guides were all forced to give these huge and incredibly detailed presentations to an audience of two. Ah, well-- we learned a lot about stars, constellations, nebulae, and planets! Alas, we weren't able to view anything through the telescopes that evening, but we did get a 'Cloudy Day Raincheck' because of the overcast sky and can now return any evening this summer to take in the night sky!

Final Stop: Um.... 'Birthday Town'?

Yes, 'twas my birthday yesterday. Not being one to go all out with the birthday celebrations, we took it easy last night. Marty made me a beautiful card, dinner, and a so-bad-its-good decorated cake. (Check out the KISS-esque font for my name spelled out with Twix bars! Also note the candle wax running free across the cake... it was even worse by the time I finally came home to blow out the flames! It's like he knew about my family's awful birthday cake tradition!)

Anyway, I usually like to set some sort of goal when my birthday comes around. This year, I'd like to get my blogging ass back in gear! It's not like I've had nothing to blog about... I've just been bogged down with long work weeks at an unfulfilling job or two. Meh. Here's to less work and more blogging for the year to come!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Where in the World is Dana L.?

Well, given my lack of frequent posting lately, it's obvious that I'm not hanging out in blogland. Instead, I've been taking trips to the Centre of the Universe and to Happy Birthday land!

I promise to write a better post soon, complete with fancy pictures and all that good stuff. For now, though, I'm still at work, waiting for the day to end so I can get on with celebrating my BIG 2-6!! YEEHAW!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yarn Harlot vs Toaster Oven

If you had to choose between:

- seeing a fairly well-known and well-loved somebody give a much-anticipated talk OR

- purchasing a product to replace a similar product you already own and haven't even used or taken out of its box,

what would you decide?

Me, too.

We ended up with back row seats at the Yarn Harlot talk (as we were running a bit late from our garage sale purchasing excursion), but we made up for the lousy seats with some fine toasted bagels and bruschetta afterwards! Who knew?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Introducing... Stampede 'Lite'!

This weekend, we discovered that the (dreaded) Calgary Stampede had followed us all the way to Victoria. Granted, there were no cheesy saloon-facades in banks and grocery stores, no cows or horses painted on every shop window, no businessmen decked out in denim for a week, no drunken 'cowboys' letting out random 'yeehaw!'s well into the night on downtown streets, and certainly no Testicle Festival. Nonetheless, I think it's safe to say that we experienced a "Stampede Lite" this past weekend. All the fun, with half the calories!

Just like the Stampede, this weekend's famed "Oak Bay Tea Party" kicked off with a much-anticipated parade. However, unlike the Stampede parade (which I confess, I don't know much about since I've never actually watched it), the local parade was somewhat anticlimactic. We were expecting giant floats, mascots, marching bands and the like. Instead, we were treated to a bizarre (and somewhat sad) display of preschoolers and long-term care residents in wheelchairs passing by. It was quite surreal to watch. One minute, there'd be a swarm of 4 year old kids on bikes riding by. None of them seemed to understand that they were in a parade-- they just wheeled wherever their training wheels would take them. The next minute, there would be a group of very old people getting wheeled by in their wheelchairs. Sadly, none of these people seemed to realize they were in a parade, either. In fact, most of them were bundled up in handknit acrylic blankets and sleeping! (I kid you not.) Needless to say, it was quite a strange kick-off.

(I was going to take a photo of the long term care residents in their wheelchairs, but it just felt wrong on so many levels. Hence, check out the four-year-olds on bikes!)

The next morning, we debated about whether or not to go back to the Tea Party. After witnessing the 'parade' the previous morning, reason said it would be wise to stay home. However, an overwhelming urge to try out the pancake breakfast overrode the rational parts of our brains, so we found ourselves back at the beach and taking in the festivities.

There were rides:

As well as an airshow! Skydivers! Bathtub races! (And before you get excited like I did, it wasn't a race of real bathtubs. It was a bunch of jetskis going around in circles... false advertising, I know.)

We ate french fries and those little donuts (actually, here they were 'Birdie's' donuts and not actually 'Those Little Donuts"(TM).)

Marty tried his luck at playing darts, but lost the prize (a satin pirate pillow!) on a technicality... His dart hit the middle of the tiny target like it was supposed to, but since it didn't stick, the girl from Quesnel, BC wouldn't let him take the pillow home. Arrr.... (said in an angry pirate voice).

The weather was beautiful, the beach was packed, and overall, we had a wonderful day.

We even caught a glimpse of what might be the cutest little girl in the world:

Don't think she's super cute? Look again:

Check out that hair!! YEEHAW!!!