The Historian & The Beatles


For the past year I’ve been co-administrator and sometime contributor to a great new blog, The Historian and The Beatles.   The Historian is Erin Torkelson Weber, who teaches American History at Neuman University in Kansas and who is the author of The Beatles and The Historians , upon which the blog is based (note the change-up in title).

In her book and blog, Erin reviews Beatle biographies with an historian’s eye. She examines how the story is constructed–for example, what data sources are used, by whom, and for what purpose.  In a blog Q and A, Erin described the utility of applying historical methods to Beatle biography this way:

I believe fans and an increasing amount of Beatles authorities are already judging new works by historian’s standards, even if they don’t specifically identify them or recognize them as such. On various forums, you’ll see fans debating the merits of certain memoirs and/or biographies, and a lot of the standards they use – balance, documentation, objectivity – are fundamental building blocks in historical methods. Thirty years ago, none of the most widely acclaimed books on the band even contained a bibliography; now all the recognized major works – You Never Give Me Your Money, for example – not only include bibliographies but also cite sources, and some Beatles authorities, such as Doggett or Lewisohn, are beginning to apply source analysis.

If there are any Beatle fans out there, or readers interested in history and the use of historical methods applied to pop culture and orthodoxy, you should pop by.  We’d love to hear from you.


Eclipse 2017

We didn’t have a total eclipse of the sun here in Canada, but the partial eclipse was pretty cool. Friends came up for the day and we managed to snap a few shots before beers and chinese food.  Taking the photo was tricker than it sounds.  One person located the sun looking through the eclipse viewer and then held the viewer in place while the other person slipped in the camera and snapped. Took several tries but we got `er done.

Speaking of eclipse viewers–they were nowhere to be found by the Friday before the Monday eclipse.  (Some entrepreneurs on Amazon were even selling them for $100!) Acting on a tip from a local camera store,  I found mine inside Sky News magazine as a free insert.)


Partial eclipse at 2:00



Buddy and his friend Monty wanted to see too.



Carnage Alley

Last year at this time I wrote a post about how treacherous the driving was on the southern leg of highway 401 in Ontario.  Aptly named “Carnage Alley”, it has been the site of some pretty horrific crashes.

To make matters worse, parts of the 40l along this southern leg have been under construction.  For 20 kilometre stretches, the highway is down to one lane, bordered by concrete barriers.  This creates a bottleneck of traffic along an already busy section of highway.

Unfortunately for me, driving on this highway is a necessity in order to visit my father, who lives in a retirement home in Amherstburg, a small town some 200 kilometres away.  Not one to push my luck,  I restrict my visits to Sundays, when there’s less traffic and fewer 18-wheelers.  This past Sunday I made the trip down, leaving first thing in the morning. My father and I had a nice visit and I left by midafternoon, thankful that my drive down was uneventful and hopeful that the trip back would be similarly peaceful.

But no.

About 70 kilometres outside of Amherstburg, the traffic slowed to a stop. Shit, I thought; an accident. I and the other drivers peered anxiously in our rearview mirrors, hoping the guy behind us didn’t rear-end us before we made our way off the highway. Thankfully everyone was paying attention.  I said a quick prayer for the unlucky driver(s) and hoped they were ok.

Our caravan of vehicles followed two large 18-wheelers off the highway and into town. (During a detour, always follow a trucker.  They’re usually the only ones who know where they’re going.) We followed them about 40 kilometres to the next highway ramp, which was in the neighbouring town of Chatham.  The ramp was open for business and mercifully past the construction zone. I got back on the highway and hoped that was the worst of it.

When I got home, I googled “401 highway closure”, curious about the accident for which I and many others were diverted. Apparently it was one of three, all occuring within a few hours of the other. The first one was the one for which I was diverted, and involved several vehicles.  There were minor injuries. The second one was an hour later, 40 kilometres ahead but going west, in the opposite direction from me. The third was the worst. Apparently stopped for the second accident, drivers in the westbound lane of the SAME ramp which an hour earlier I took to get back ON the highway were rear-ended by an inattentive driver.  A woman and her son were killed.


One of several construction zones, 401 near Chatham

I ended my trip vowing I would find an alternate route home.  It might take longer, but at least I would arrive alive.

You Know You Live Near Seniors When..

Cherryhill Village, an apartment community in London, Ontario, has been predominantly a seniors enclave for many years.  With its close proximity to the University of Western Ontario, however, the demographic has been slowly changing.  Now you see seniors and their walkers living happily along side of university students, young families, and middle-aged people like me.

In spite of the increasingly younger population, however, one is constantly reminded that the majority of residents are still geriatric.  It’s not unusual to see EMS personnel on the elevator with a senior resident strapped to a gurney and a waiting ambulance outside. And when you see a police car accompany that ambulance, its fairly certain that someone probably died.

The other day I was waiting at the elevator and saw that someone stuck an obituary notice above the elevator keys.  Since we have a bulletin board in our laundry room for such things and since obits don’t belong in lobbies (!!), I figured this was the work of a family member who didn’t know better.  I pulled the obit off the wall and stuck it where it belongs.

A few days later I was checking my mail and turned to see an opened box of Attend Adult Diapers sitting on a bench.  Why anyone would think that adult diapers belong in the lobby is beyond me, so I moved them to a shelf in the laundry room under the obits. Exhibit A:


I’m in my 60th year, but I’m not ready for obits and free diapers.  I hope I never am.

Meet Botir

One of the reasons I hate travelling is that I don’t like sleeping in hotels.  My sleep requirements are exacting (ok, anal):  I need a certain type of mattress, my own down pillows, a down duvet, and–most importantly–some form of white noise.  At home, I sleep year-round with the ceiling fan whirling above my head AND a nightly rainstorm, courtesty of this great little app on my iphone (which is attached to a small bose system.)

But when I saw this little guy while surfing one night, I decided I might give hotels another go, just to meet him.

He’s Botir, a robot which delivers things to your hotel room.  Gets on the elavator, delivers the goods, exchanges pleasantries with you, makes cute noises, and then makes its way back home. Forget your toothbrush?  Not to worry–Botir will bring you one. Have a hankering for some bottled water? Not a problem for Botir.  I think I would spend the entire evening dreaming up things for it to bring me, just because it’s so cute.