One day late! I did nothing to celebrate, but needed a title, and so here we are. Bonne fête (or something close to that).
It’s been a full few weeks since my last post, so let me start by sharing some good news that most of my friends and family are already aware of but, as is to be expected, some aren’t, especially those who don’t live in Calgary: In this year’s ffwd magazine readers’ poll they included, for the first time, a “best professor” category and yours truly came in third. Here’s proof:
Now, as somebody who’s been afflicted with impostor syndrome since grad school, I have to qualify this. This sort of vote is always going to favour people like me and Glasberg who teach massive courses. There are superb professors, professors who work harder and teach more effectively than I could ever hope to, but who focus on grad courses (or smaller courses in general, maybe because of their subject specialties and maybe because they work in small departments, like linguistics) and could never get enough votes to win, place or show in this popularity contest. That said, I’m still going to be happy about this honour, because I do, in fact, a fantastic job in those big lectures, lectures that are considered a thankless task by many of my colleagues, and it feels wonderful to get this recognition. I’m taking it. THANK YOU!
I guess the other momentous thing of the last while was the 100th edition of the Calgary Stampede. Attendance broke records-just over 1.4 million gate admissions versus the previous record of 1.26 million set in 2006. The weather was hot and, for Calgary, humid, horrible for cowboy duds (which I am proud to say I never stoop to wear- too damn hot), but it rained almost not at all aside from a brief storm on day 1 and intermittent showers on day 10. The numbers at the park, impressive as they were, don’t however reflect the air of Gemütlichkeit all over the city, and this feeling is what I love about Stampede. Not the debauchery and the douchiness but the sense of, for lack of a better word, togetherness and inclusion that permeates the city during Stampede. This year, the international visitors were especially obvious and that was part of the fun. Now, I’m glad it’s over; it’s exhausting and loud and crowded, but I managed three trips to the grounds, got to see both native dancers at the Indian Village and the evening grandstand show (INCREDIBLE) for the first time, and feel great about the whole thing. Among all the pictures I took (and man I am loving the camera on my HTC One X- Android is a mixed bag but this camera rocks), two that I especially like were this image of the new “teepee” symbolizing the Treaty 7 First Nations at the west entrance:
And this lone intrepid rider on the zipline that traversed the park:
In the midst of Stampede were other events, like a Turkish Festival that I never knew existed the first weekend, and this past weekend the 2012 Prairie Regional Barista Championship took place, as it has every year since its inauguration in 2008 (you might recall that I was a judge that year), at Fratello Coffee Company’s roasting facility and offices in southeast Calgary. The field comprised 10 competitors but one no-show; of the remaining nine, four were from Calgary, four from Edmonton and one was from Kelowna BC and was competing for the experience since she was “out of region” and couldn’t advance to nationals for that reason. So it would appear that the competition wasn’t very stiff with only eight “real” contestants, but the quality of the work on display was intimidatingly superb. In the end, the winner (for the fourth time in a row) was Ben Put of Calgary’s Phil & Sebastian. Second was Jeremy Ho also of Phil & Sebastian. Third and fourth were both baristas from Edmonton’s Transcend: Shane Hauser and Daniel Lodewyk. Ben has come in second at nationals twice now (2010 and 2011, competing first for P&S and last year for Transcend as he was living in Edmonton) and it would be great if 2012 were his year to take it all. Fingers crossed, but really it would great if a Alberta barista could follow in the footsteps of Transcend’s Josh Hockin and win nationals again. We have an outstanding, world-class coffee scene here and it’s really humbling to see how advanced it’s become at this event. I took a few pics but none can compare with the photoset I found from audience member Jon Lin so here it is. Thanks, Mr. Lin.
There’s more going on, really, including tonnes of good to great new restaurants (and food trucks, which range from terrible to great, really, but more on that later), but I’m written out for right now. Tasty treats to come, I promise.