Edmonton Tourist: Zeidler Dome

The Telus World of Science had closed the star theatre for a long time while it was in refurbishment. It was always a place I preferred to the Imax or the other galleries. When it closed I admit to being sad but excited for the technology! I haven’t had a chance to go see a regular show, I did head over Friday night to experience Dome A 360* Meditation in a full dome. To read about my meditation experience, visit here.

We arrived early so we would have a chance to explore the Star Gallery. I hadn’t been there for a long time and was eager to explore it. I had a chance to drive the Lunar Rover, watched a show about Saturn V and admired some of the photos from the various space missions.

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We kept an eye on the clock so we could arrive at the dome when the doors open. They held us in the waiting room. I thought it would be a nice space for a party. The ceiling was stary and trippy.

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The usher stopped to chat with us and recommended we sit along the back of the wall so we could get the full experience. When we walked in, most people vied for seats in the centre of the theatre. We headed to the back. Did you know there is an area with floor beds so you could lay down and explore the dome? I thought this was cool and may explore a star show that way. The new refurbed dome looks exactly like the dome on Big Bang Theory where Raj works. We weren’t allowed to take photos during the show, but I took a few while everyone was settling in.

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When the experience started, we were asked to close our eyes. I peeked. The dome was lit up with the night sky. It made me eager to come back. As I sank into my chair, I notice they fully recline. This is new. I was completely horizontal, I only wished my legs were supported. The experience was an hour then they gently brought us back. It was a great experience and I think I will participate in something similar again. I will for sure head back to enjoy the other dome shows.

 

Explore Edmonton: Telus World of Science

When I was a kid, my grandma used to take me and my brother to the Queen Elizabeth planetarium.

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Of course, it no longer looks as spiffy as this, but I rather remember it this way than the rundown version it has become. The mosaics are still super cool though. I loved sitting in the tiny theatre staring at the stars and learning about the constellations. It was one of my favourite memories as a child.

About two months ago I did some volunteer work and was gifted two tickets for the Telus World of Science. I was excited because there are two new exhibits, Dinosaurs and Terry Fox, that I wanted to see.

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The centre first opened in 1984, as a replacement for the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium that had operated as Edmonton’s Planetarium since 1960 but had become limited by its seating capacity of 65. The City of Edmonton selected the Edmonton Space Sciences Centre as the City’s flagship project commemorating the Province of Alberta’s 75th Anniversary. The original building was designed by architect Douglas J. Cardinal. It was the most unusual building I had seen go up in Edmonton. There was a definite space quality about it. The grounds and building have changed over the years, they keep adding to it. Apparently, two new galleries are going in and a complete revamp of the star theatre. This meant the Margaret Ziegler Theatre was CLOSED. My heart broke a little bit. But there was an inflatable star dome so I was happy I could see the night sky show. What they failed to mention was the star dome was for people under four feet who wanted to sit on the floor. That’s not me, so I left disappointed with a side of excitement for the new star theatre to open one day in the future. Imagine my surprise when I heard the Zeidler Dome opens this weekend!

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We went to the Dinosaur gallery. These were animatronics with sound and FEATHERS. First Pluto isn’t a planet and now dinosaurs have feathers. Science is forcing me to unlearn ‘facts’ from science class in the 70’s.

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If I was five I would have been all over this exhibit. Dinosaurs just don’t do it for me. I did learn a fun fact though, Dinosaurs suffered from skull fractures. They were clumsy, bullied and beaten by other dinosaurs. So that was interesting. I walked through the exhibit and took video of the moving creatures. You can find that video on my Edmonton Tourist page on facebook. It would have been WAY COOL if I was five, at 50 it was fine.

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We wandered through the other galleries, not much has changed since my kids were small and we had a seasons pass. The Terry Fox Gallery was worth the trip. I thought I knew all there was to know about Terry Fox and then I saw this water jug. He filled it in the Atlantic Ocean, intending to empty it into the Pacific Ocean. It was sobering.

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His van was on display.

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And his prosthetic leg.

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I had held this before. I had met Darryl Fox, his brother, at an event and he had this prosthetic with him. The weight is unimaginable. That famous blue Adidas shoe had me choked up a bit. His shirts were lined up – the days when everyone ran in cotton.

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And the Companion to the Order of Canada. This is something only amazing Canadians get the honour of wearing. He is the youngest Canadian to ever receive it.

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This was a moving exhibit.

We left the building and walked towards the observatoryIMG_0452.

Next, to the star theatre, this is my favourite place. The dome was open and we looked at the sun – with a special filter, you could pick out the textured surface and sunspots. Then we looked at Venus. Not something you can normally see mid-day. I often spot Venus at sunset.

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If you haven’t been to Telus World of Science lately, give it a go and say hi to Terry. Support science, encourage your daughters to enter into STEM fields. Take time to learn and respect facts. Science is always evolving (- hello? FEATHERS!!! and PLUTO!!!) because we are constantly learning more. I can only imagine what will be uncovered for my grandchildren. Go learn something. 

Edmonton Tourist: The Science Behind Pixar

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Anyone who knows me well has a sense that I am an animation fan, specifically, a Disney/Pixar fan. I spent hours in my youth drawing and creating. I had originally wanted to be a Disney Clean-up Artist. A Clean-Up Artist removes all the extra lines to reveal a polished image. It is more creative than you think and much more involved than having an eraser,

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You know its Woody and Buzz, but the Clean-Up hasn’t happened yet. 

For reasons that coincide with what I refer to as the Dark Times, I didn’t get out of Edmonton, never mind finding my way to Los Angeles. However, that didn’t change how I felt about the artistry of animation. The level of detail is always what pulled me in. From my first moment on Main Street in Disneyland to searching for Easter Eggs hidden in movies, I enjoy all of it. So when my son came home back in November and said, “We just saw The Science of Pixar at Telus World of Science (TWOS). I think you will love it.”

 

He was not wrong.

I had planned to go to Bon Ton Bakery with every other Edmontonian on Saturday. TWOS is down the street, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to go! Bon Ton had a line outside in the dark waiting to get in, happily, I arrived at 9:03 am after the doors opened but the wait was going to be about 30 minutes.

 

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I enjoy the politeness and the information of this sign. Thank you TWOS for having a cheeky sign I can relate to.

 

Baked goods in hand, I left for TWOS and decided I would not go see it if there were a million kids, I would plan on going on the Adult Only night. I wanted to be able to take my time and thoroughly experience it. I can’t do that when I am letting kids try stuff.

We walked into the foyer and we were the only people there. The place was empty. The first day of Christmas break and the building was full of staff and a handful of visitors.

The cost was $30 per person (ish- it was actually a little less) The recommend 1.5 hours to go through the exhibit. I agree. To fully experience it, you need to watch all the videos and try out the interactive parts. I found this fascinating.

The first part was the introduction video. It had a cameo of John Lasseter, I am not going to lie, his shenanigans have left a dark mark for me on Pixar. But his abuse of power does not negate his creative brilliance. Then I think, there are other brilliant people in this world and maybe it is their time to shine. At any rate, I entered with mix feelings.

The exhibit has the following steps of an animated CG film:

  • Modeling
  • Rigging
  • Surfaces
  • Sets & Cameras
  • Animation
  • Simulation
  • Lighting
  • Rendering

I participated and at every section and watched every video interaction. I was blown away by the level of detail that goes into each frame.

Modeling was the least interesting for me yet it was fascinating at the same time!

It takes place after the storyboards and character development. The clay models are used to scan and get the image into the computer program so it can be animated.

Rigging was next, this step gives movement to that character, it makes all the parts move, from facial expressions to limbs moving.

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Surfaces add texture, it makes McQueen shiny and Mator rusty, Skully furry and Mike smooth. Such an involved process!

Sets and Cameras, where to put the camera determines the look of the set. This was facinating. IMG_8357

Animation, I basically learned it is all stop motion on a very advanced level. I gave it a try with the Pixar lamp and learned I do not have the patience for 26+ movements per second. I took a video of it and the lamp moved in a choppy motion. Although to be fair, I didn’t have the time to really do it justice,  it was super finicky.

The Simulation was all physics. Trying to get curly hair or fur to move the way it does, in reality, was a series of equations that simulated springs. Thinking about how to achieve the end result. Problem-solving at its finest!

Lighting was cool, I played with sets and sun levels, turning on and off interior lights. possibilities were endless…

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Rendering blew my mind away. It basically is a mathematical equation for colouring each pixel. The guy based his math on the hydrogen bomb equation and won an Oscar for it.

This exhibit gave me my Disney fix. I hadn’t been since January 2016 and it doesn’t look like I am going anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean I am not fascinated by it all. I enjoyed wandering around and looking at the artist’s renditions. People are crazy talented and I  admire their ability.

Is it for kids? Sure kids will find it fun, but it isn’t a playroom. there are buttons to push and characters they will recognize. I think kids over 8 will get more out of it but the science and math involved will be out of range.

If you are an animation fan, Pixar or Disney fan, then this is a must-see when it gets to your neighborhood. Right now it is touring in Edmonton until January 7th and is also at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. It was developed by the Boston Museum of Science and Pixar. When it comes to your city, go see it!

The Edmonton Tourist becomes Tour Guide!

Good News! I am back on chocolate! It is more out of necessity then preference because the Belgium Chocolate is gone and I stole a piece of Chatterbox’s Halloween candy. But I am back to normal, when I say normal I really mean frazzled. Chocolate and coffee are my current drug of choice. All is good with my world once again.

Things in my life are moving at a frantic pace. I am finding my University course interesting, yet monotonous. So much reading about the same thing. Talking to my 3 mentors makes the course very interesting. I really am thankful for them. My work is great but super busy, as always. My children’s marks are unbelievably amazing! Family health issues are starting to resolve themselves. Just when I think I have everything under-control, a giant pothole shows up and upsets the apple cart. The next little while will be filled with new adventures and I can’t wait to get started! But………

I need a distraction for about an hour. I need my mind to wander and think about other things for a brief moment in time. So my dear readers, I need your help!

At the end of the month we are having a visitor stay with us through Christmas. When I say visitor, I really mean the Evil Genius. That’s right, my step-son is paying a call from future.  When I say future, I really mean Australia. I can hear you all saying “Why would someone who has a perfectly lovely summer season coming up CHOOSE to go to Edmonton for the winter?” Good question! From what I understand about Genetic Offspring, Honey and the Evil Genius, science is their thing. Spacey science to be more exact. Edmonton is DARK in the winter, and by dark I mean the sunrises around 8:30ish and sets at 4:00ish. Perfect for seeing the Northern Lights – sorry – Aurora Borealis. I admit, it is one of my most favorite things about Edmonton too. Off our deck is the perfect view-point! Maybe light a fire in the outdoor fireplace, sit in a snow suit and wait. That’s the problem. There isn’t a set schedule, but there is a web site that offers a “forecast“. That will be helpful!

I need your help because I want to know what OTHER people want to see and do when they come to The Great White North. Here are my ideas, please feel free to edit, change and add to the list.

  1. Roast marshmallows, make s’mores and wait for the Northern-lights
  2. Visit the Telus World of Science to use the observatory and check out the stars in the freezing cold.
  3. Go to an Oiler Hockey Game and possibly an Oil Kings Hockey game
  4. Shovel the side-walk
  5. Hang the Christmas lights
  6. Strap a snowboard to his feet and push him down the hill
  7. Go to the Ice on Whyte festival and check out the ice sculptures
  8. Drag the Evil Genius around town to look at Christmas lights
  9. Go Ice skating on a pond and learn what Shinny is
  10. Go see the Christmas Carole at the Citadel Theatre
  11. Go on a Sleigh Ride

I am looking forward to being the Edmonton Tour Guide for a while. I am nervous about the cold. It could be Blizzard season, no not the ice cream from Dairy Queen, a REAL BLIZZARD! Or it could be unseasonably warm, hovering around 0C . Hard to say what the weather will be like. It IS Edmonton, so if you don’t like the weather just a minute and new weather shows up. At any rate I hope the Evil Genius has a great time – or at the very least – lie to me and say it’s great 😉

So my dear readers, what would YOU like to see if you came for a visit?

“The Whole Universe was in a hot, dense state,” huh? Sorry I was Sleeping

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Image by { pranav } via Flickr

You ever have that moment that every parent wishes for? You know what I am talking about. The point at which your offspring surpasses you. You hope for it from the moment they are born. You hope for them to be stronger, smarter, faster than you ever were. You hope they reach their full potential, unlike you did. Well, be careful what you wish for.

My 14-year-old is a self-proclaimed science geek. I had the pleasure of taking him and his friend out to the Fringe Festival last Saturday night. My kid is the type to automatically understand the workings of things. His friends know it. This young fellow says to my genetic offspring ( I only call him that to pump myself up with the knowledge that he is mine – I had a hand in creating this amazingly smart person) “Dude, I’m freaked, where is that light coming from? What is causing it?” Without skipping a beat, my genetic offspring gives him the direction and the full scientific explanation  of which I only understood, “over there”. His friend goes, “Ooooohhhhhh thanks man.” And thus new brainwaves were created in the friend. Wish it happened to me.

If you have ever watched “The Big Bang Theory” Sheldon is my son with the exception that my genetic offspring has a sense of social cues and a killer sense of humor. He gets sarcasm. This may be horrific  for some of you but sarcasm is the bread and butter of our family’s humor. Sink or swim. Eat or be eaten. We warn ALL outsiders who enter the inner sanctum, we WILL eat you alive if the opportunity presents itself. It is never meant as mean, occasionally it crosses the line, but it is dished out will love. At 14, my genetic offspring gets this and can give it full force. I love every minute of it!

The other day my genetic offspring was explaining to me some spatial concept theory he was developing. My eyes glazed over and he said, “you don’t understand do you?” HA! Nope not a chance! Then he said the nicest thing everyone could ever expect their own genetic offspring to ever say, “Mom, do you know what I love about our family? I love that you all let me talk about my scientific theories and encourage me to explore it further.” At this point I was welling up, he went on further to say, “I couldn’t ask for a better family, well who are we kidding, I could. I could have a family who was just as geeky as me and who would have a good time talking about science at dinner, but you’ll do.” That is when I burst out laughing. That’s MY BOY! Sweeten them up then smack them around the ears. I love it!

At this point I would like to publicly apologize to my parents for not meeting my full potential. I went to a seminar last night for old people who are going back to university. I was really nervous. It was a motley crew of potential students. But I got it, fully understood what was expected. It’s not like I am new to hard work, writing or research. Having 20 odd years of front-line experience will really help. I can feel the energy and am so excited to get started. I have high expectations and know I can meet them. They talked about post-graduate degrees. Then I remembered!I got a glimpse into my past. Everything flooded back. I recalled what my original dream was when I first went to school 25 years ago. I remember the road blocks, I remembered the feeling of a high-grade point average. I now have an even loftier goal today then with what I started out with June when I decided to go back to school. I am not sharing with the blogging world yet. I am going to share it with my family first. My honey knows, and then I’ll tell my parents. I am not going to look at my sister or other people with successful lives and wish I was them. I am going to be them – well, who are we kidding, I am going to be the best version of me.

I start today when I go to the registrars office and pay my tuition. Now what does a 43-year-old tourist wear to her first day of school?