Spring Noise Conference 2011 – Part 1

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Get ready for lots of news about acoustics, engineering and music!  I just got back from the Alberta Acoustics and Noise Association’s Spring Noise Conference 2011 in Banff, and I’ve got lots to share.  What an amazing week!  I learned a ton, presented a paper, went horseback riding, played some singing bowls, and met some great people.

So where to start?

First off, for those of you who don’t know, I’ve been volunteering my time in the acoustics industry for a while now.  This is my 3rd Spring Noise Conference (SNC), which happens every two years.  It is an industrial conference that allows professionals and academics in the area of acoustics and noise control to present new ideas, techniques and technologies to one another.

Noise pollution is a serious issue, especially in urban residential areas.  If you live near a noisy compressor station, a busy road, or anything power related, you already know how a seemingly simple sound can drive you insane after a while.  Noise pollution has been linked to all sorts of stress-related medical conditions, and is a serious problem for the quality of living.  Animals are also severely affected by noise.  Bats, for instance, may lose their ability to navigate through echolocation because of the frequencies given off by wind turbines.  Some animals will abandon noisy areas altogether, which can cause serious ecological impacts.  In our oceans, there are studies being done on how noise pollution is affecting the ability of whales and dolphins to communicate properly.  There are even people who study acoustic ecology, or the preservation of world soundscapes.

If you’re interested, check out the links below.  More SNC details to come!

Spring Noise Conference:  http://www.springnoiseconference.com/index.html

Inter-Noise Conference:  http://www.internoise2011.com/

Noise-Con:  http://www.inceusa.org/nc11/

Bioacoustics in oceans:  http://www.neptunecanada.ca/

Institute of Noise Control Engineering (USA):  http://www.inceusa.org/

International Institute of Noise Control Engineering:  http://www.i-ince.org/

Acoustical Society of America:  http://acousticalsociety.org/

 

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Rockin’ the Casbah

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Thanks to Jamilee and her students for having us dance at their end of year recital, Rockin’ the Casbah, today!  We had a great time, and everyone looked fantastic!

If you’re interested in checking out local belly dance events, or want to see what’s going on in the Canadian belly dance community, check out the great website Jamilee maintains.  This is a detailed listing of upcoming events and opportunities for dancers and fans alike.

http://www.abirscasbah.com/what’s_happening.htm

 

The Ideal Hero

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I’m sitting here watching Millionaire Matchmaker (a guilty pleasure of mine) and as always, I’m stunned at the behaviour of some of these men.  Now, a lot of the women aren’t much better, but for the sake of this post, I want to talk about what makes an “ideal hero.”

I’ve often wondered if it’s difficult for female authors write their ideal men into their stories without comparing the fictional heroes they’ve created against the real men they live with.  A writer spends so much time in the heads of their characters, it’s sometimes difficult to pull away and refocus on the real world.  Anyone who has felt completely absorbed by a novel can say the same thing- sometimes it’s hard to tear yourself away.  Imagine that same feeling transferred to relationships.  When you spend hours writing the exploits of a rugged, handsome warrior with a mysterious past, it might be tough to sleep through the snores of a man who forgets important dates and uses up the last bit of coffee just when you need it the most.

Or is it?

Years ago, I read the online article “Jeremy the Perfect Boyfriend.”  http://johnlarroquetteproject.com/2004/03/06/jeremy-the-perfect-boyfriend/  My girlfriends and I howled with laughter as we read it, but the author had a good point.  The article outlines Jeremy and all his traits, and how he is the perfect boyfriend that all girls desire in their lives whether they admit it or not.  And it is this sort of character, albeit greatly exaggerated, that we often see battling his way through the pages of our favourites novels.  However, it is the heroes with flaws that create the best stories.  A man who deals with every challenge perfectly is boring to read about after a while.  Sometimes a man’s worst moment in life can end up being the most pivotal moment for a fantastic storyline.  Aragorn left Arwen, Bill betrayed Sookie, Rhett and Scarlett fought like cats and dogs, Mr. Darcy was incredibly rude and arrogant to Elizabeth, and Gilbert called Anne “Carrots” before pulling her hair.  ***By the way, if you don’t know what books those couples are from, shame on you.  I highly suggest you look them up and read every single one of them.*** 

It’s the heroes who mess up that capture our attention.  It’s the heroes who fix their mistakes that capture our hearts.

My own list for the “ideal hero”:

–  Kind to others (a huge one for me, fairly self-explanatory, being kind to children and animals is rule #1)

–  A good listener (but also capable of having a real conversation)

–  Calls me beautiful (bonus points when I’m looking anything but)

–  Good sense of humour (without thinking he’s the funniest thing since “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?”)

–  Laughs at my jokes (even though they’re terrible and lame)

–  Apologizes (when in doubt, say you’re sorry anyway)

–  Dependable (is there when I need him, even if it’s just a flat tire in the middle of the city)

–  Supportive (backs up my decisions, doesn’t talk down my dreams)

–  Takes care of me when I’m sick, sad, stressed, upset, etc. (and lets me take care of him)

I think Rhett would probably fail that list, but Mr. Darcy might pass by the end of the book.  Gilbert definitely passes.  Aragorn and Bill have to contend with killing supernatural forces, so I’ll cut them a break on the kindness.  Do you have an “ideal hero” or “ideal heroine” list?

Fiction just makes it all more interesting. Truth is so boring.

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In celebration of the newly released “Dead Reckoning” on May 3, I’d like to share another one of my favourite authors; the talented, imaginative, New York Times bestselling Charlaine Harris.

Most people know Charlaine Harris as the author of the Southern Vampire Mystery series.  If that’s not ringing a bell, try this- it’s the book series that HBO’s series “True Blood” is based on.  Now before you groan about vampires and their place in pop culture, give me a chance to defend myself.

Charlaine Harris is no one-hit wonder.  She was an established mystery writer long before the True Blood books were published.  In fact, her vampire books are even shelved with the mysteries.  All of the SVM books are well-planned and well-executed paranormal mysteries, not just more vampire stories pandering to the audience of Twilight.  In fact, I’d say that some of Twilight’s intended junior high audience should probably NOT be reading some of the content found in Charlaine Harris’ novels.  Call me old-fashioned, but moral sparkling vampires are probably less controversial than the graphic stakings and occasional torture scene found in True Blood.

That being said, the True Blood books are nowhere near as gory or explicit as the TV show.  I’ve seen a few episodes, and let me tell you, they do not do justice to the fascinating characters and intricate plots that Charlaine Harris has created.  If you’ve only seen the show, I highly recommend that you read the first few books and see if you still feel the same about the series.  Charlaine’s vampires are sexy, tough and frequently frightening.  Sookie’s narrative throughout the suspenseful storyline is sarcastically amusing, and always entertaining.

The first book, “Dead Until Dark,” was published back in 2001, long before vampires had reached the current popularity among genre readers and moviegoers.  I discovered the series a year ago when I picked “Dead Until Dark” out of a pile of books a friend had lent me.  I was instantly hooked, and spent a glorious weekend glued to the next three books.  Now completely caught up and a devoted fan, I finished reading the newly published 11th book last night.  Unfortunately, Charlaine Harris knows how to keep readers interested, and I’m already dying for more.  There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting to get your hands on the next book in a series.  Book #12 cannot come fast enough.  Well played, Charlaine Harris.  Well played.

And for anyone wondering, I am so Team Bill.

“Fiction just makes it all more interesting.  Truth is so boring.”
– Charlaine Harris in “Dead as a Doornail”