An evening at Rosewood Estates Winery

I had a beautiful day today. First, my parents surprised me by coming over and helping me clean my house in exchange for a lunch of couscous with tilapia, red bells, tomato and garlic that I prepared. I love cooking and it was my pleasure to whip something up for them. They left at about 5pm, and then I drove over to Rosewood Estates Winery in Beamsville, Ontario, where I joined the MCM students (Master of Communication Management, in which I teach) for a case study about the winery by Eugene Roman, who is also the owner. It was fascinating.

Eugene explained how he has applied the same sort of innovative thinking that led to his success at Nortel, Bell and now at Open Text. He focused on how thinking differently has always been the key for him. The winery is just stunning. Château Rosewood is beautiful – I was struck by Eugene’s comment that “I wake up every morning overlooking the Riesling vines.” These words took me back to the time that I lived in Montpellier, in the Languedoc-Roussillon in France when I was 17. I spent many happy hours both on the seaside near Palavas-les-Flots and also at a winery owned by the father of a close friend. I too remember waking up to see the clear morning Mediterranean sun spill its soft yellow light over the vines. We would sit and drink espresso, and sometimes play pétanque – that lazy version of bocci that has filled countless quiet afternoons for southern French men.

Eugene served us an extraordinary dinner of butternut squash soupe aux poires accompanied by a scrumptious venison stew with gnocchi so light that they floated in the  russet broth like little cumulus clouds. Dessert was a crème brulée with blackberries and blueberries. What a wonderful feast – just right for a brisk fall evening. Many thanks to Niagara Gourmet for catering the tasty fare. It was a nostalgic experience for me to dine on heavy, rustic, French-style wooden tables, surrounded by the oaken casks containing the vineyard’s wines.

I took home a wonderful Sémillon and two bottles of Ambrosia honey wine, which I particularly loved during our tasting. I also took home one of Rosewood’s cherry-honey wines to experiment with. I look forward to enjoying them with friends.

Honey wine over vanilla ice cream, anyone?

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A visit to the AGO

Yesterday, I went with a new friend to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario, specifically to see the Edward Streichen fashion photography exhibit (In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Year 1923-1937). The photos were beautiful, stunning, really. I was particularly struck by the fact that the photos showed the models bodies in an unvarnished, unphotoshopped style. Obviously those technologies weren’t available at the time – but there was a comforting realism, or was it unrealism that moved me as I was looking at them They were stark and yet they had so much more depth than the poses that models are most often captured in now. These women had complex expressions on their faces – they were often looking off into the quarter or middle distance, and seemed to be thinking real thoughts. Sometimes, you could see that Streichen had caught the model in a moment of reverie, of private transport. Like I said, they were emotional – moving. After that we went for a yummy dinner at Jules Bistro. It was one of the best days I have had in a while. Life should be full of days of art, food and great conversation, shouldn’t it?

Snowy Edmonton – Content analysis and old friends.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting my old friend and mentor, Geoffrey Rockwell. It was a great trip. I stayed at a beautiful hotel, the Fairmont Macdonald Hotel, where I spent a good part of Saturday with my laptop in the great room, looking out the window and writing. The talk was interesting. It has been a while since I have co-delivered a talk with someone, but Geoffrey and I see eye on most issues, so we were able to segway between our parts quite well. We presented on the idea of whether the actual product of a text or content analysis is a new cultural or scientific artifact, separate from the texts or corpora from which it was pulled. One of the strong points of the argument, I think, was the idea that content analysis, because of its use of human coders, but also the very structured and bounded form of reading that is imposed on the coders retains the best of the interpretive, human, subjective element of reading, while integrating the order and rigour of the scientific method. I left Edmonton inspired to get back to work, but a little nostalgic for the good times that I used share with Geoffrey at McMaster. He was one of the reasons that I initially joined the faculty there and was always a trusted friend. At least the Maple Leaf Lounge in Edmonton was really pleasant, and since it was Thanksgiviing eve, the Air Canada staff offered us vin à volonté. Nice.

Everything starts somewhere…

Well, I have thought about blogging for an awfully long time. A lot of people have asked me to start using a blog as a tribune for my ideas, the interesting things I do and come across. So I have decided to plunge into the world internet commentary. This blog will be eclectic. I’ll talk about communications, multimedia, linguistics, cognitive science, politics as well as any random (and presumably interesting) things that happen in my life. Let see how this goes…