Most important WR art show of 2014 on now

Tri-City Stopgap pop-up art show 173

The TL;DR: Dear Reader, I need you to do something for me.
I don’t ask for much. I don’t show you ads. I bring the scoop as hard and fast as I can.

I need you to share the shit out of the Tri-City Stopgap Pop-up Art Exhibition.

What: 64 artists showing work in a former candy factory
When: Oct 25 to Nov 1, 4:30 to 8:30pm
Reception/Totally Awesome Party: Nov 1, 7pm
Where: 151 Weber St S. Waterloo (map link:
Really where: go all the way down the left side of the building all the way to the back
Park: some parking in the lot at 151, tons on Roger St (take the stairs up to 151)
It’s on the #4 GRT bus route, jump out at stop 2466 (at Roger and Weber)
Who: Tri-City Stopgap artist collective (Mike Ambedian, Nadine Badran, Sheila McMath
Cost: free-no-pay
Questions: or 519-572-9751

The ever-arts-lovin’ Martin DeGroot wrote up this show in The Record.

For all the tens of thousands of dollars spent on cultural studies, consultations, administration, and WTF in WR, this show by artists for artists was put together with an extremely modest grant (I’m guessing <$1000) from Waterloo Region Arts Fund and free use of the space by property owner Robert Baxtor. Almost all of that money is going to insurance. There was no fee for artists to participate. There is no percentage for the house if artists sell work. There was no jury or theme. Inclusive. Politicians, candidates, municipal govt staff, and citizens of WR take note: this is *exactly* how we build out our cultural ecosystem in a cost-effective, progressive, and kickass way. GSD! If you want to support this kind of cool stuff, show up and bring four friends. And spread the word about this show.

I got over to the venue Thursday night with Brohemus and our pal Melissa Doherty. They were both delivering their ginormous paintings to the show with the truck Dave borrowed from work and I tagged along with a camera and a big bag of curiosity.

In speaking with organizers Mike Ambedian and Nadine Badran, I asked them what success will look like the day after the show closes. They both said the show was already successful considering 64 artists signed up with only 2 weeks notice. They jokingly worried that they might have been sitting alone in a giant warehouse. Hanging out and shooting for a couple of hours, the strong network of artists who all know each other through no more than one degree of separation was obvious and delightful. My last two questions to Mike and Nadine were: what do you need and how can I help? Answers:

They need people to come see the show, and especially the Nov 1 closing party when there will be performance art, drinks, and a large crowd.

They need people to spread the word about the show. So please push it on fb/tw/email/posters.

Ok, now on to the well-beyond-reasonable number of photos from the show setup…

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Visited the future at Christie Digital

Christie Digital tour with George T 072

My good friend George Tsintzouras took me on a tour to the future yesterday. Seeing the tech on my 2-hour extended tour of Christie Digital blew my frickin’ hair back.

Case in point above: this is my arm with vascular system projected in real-time. An infrared emitter/camera pair senses my veins and arteries, including the presence of blood, and then that data is rendered in visible light and projected on my arm. This aids in finding blood clots and identifying veins in the elderly and obese in a non-invasive manner. Whaaat?!

Regular readers know that there is not much in the world that distracts me from taking photos, but this fieldtrip had so much cool tech and I had so many questions, that photography took a back seat. Seriously, only *ten* photos!

The TL;DR: holy macaroni and thanks to George and Christie Digital.

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Reverse engineering a TORCAM CNC lathe controller

TORCAM CNC controller reverse engineering 018

About a month ago, I connected with Arden’s high school tech teacher to see if we could get the CNC lathe and mill going in SJAM’s shop. It had been inherited from another school and as far as we knew had never run at its current location. The backstory is in my original post on this from September.

The TL;DR: this box was not designed to connect to a standard PC parallel port. Pin 13 on a standard port is an input to the PC, however I discovered that this box is expecting the 74HC240 and HC244 buffers to get their 5V Vcc via Pin 13.  Hmmm. Further investigation revealed that the controller box was feeding front panel button presses back through the on-board buffer chips, but some of those were terminating in the Pin 18-25 range at the PC.  Bzzzzt! Those are all grounds. So, discussing with the ever-lovin’, always-makin’ James Bastow, we conclude that this whole rig probably shipped with its own special computer, with a special I/O card on the ISA bus that provided all the I/O and power for the controller box. Looking at the pinout I had reversed, it seemed I could reasonably make a custom adapter cable to get at least minimal functionality out of this rig via a standard PC. That’s in progress.

A little help: I may have mistreated the parallel port on my old DOS laptop in the course of this work, so I’m looking for anyone who can contribute another with no hopes of having it returned. A Win98 laptop with parallel port would be much appreciated. Thanks!

After a very otherwise busy month, I’ve got an update. I cracked the case open and took a large number of photographs of the guts, including both sides of the PCBs. That’s my first step in reverse engineering this controller.

Next I…

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1shot #198-some days all you see is the fence…


but that day I saw past the flickering poplars and the roiling sand in the surf, all the way to where the blue meets the blue. This beautiful lake, imprinted on me at birth, is as much a part of me as my DNA.


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Weird Canada building culture–KWAG Drawathon

WeirdCanada Drawathon at KWAG 014-

Weird Canada, along with some help from KWAG, Equitable Life, and Wellington Brewery put together exactly the type of event that I’ve been soapboxing as an awesome and most effective way to extend the cultural ecosystem. This second annual Drawathon on Saturday ran from noon until midnight, spanned age demographics from young to old(er), and actively encouraged participation in creation (rhyme!).

Here’s my niece Alex who I serendipitously discovered at this event mid-afternoon. She heard about this through a teacher at KCI, which as we know has a really strong arts program. Anam Latif wrote this up in The Record. I found out about it because organizer Marie LeBlanc Flanagan reached out after stopping by my makebright booth at Communitech during the MaRS Studio Y visit a couple weeks back.

There seems to be substantial agreement that a rich cultural fabric is good for life in general, and is the most critical limiting factor on the growth of our Region with respect to talent attraction. How to actually work on said fabric has led to a lot of head-scratching, expensive studies, administrative overhead, and nervous sideways looks when we try to figure who will fund this development. It’s simple: let’s do 200 events that look like this. Not only drawathons, and Open Jams + artist-of-the-week, and heavy metal breakfasts, and DIYDAYs, but more more more! BluesFest, JazzFest, Kultrun, Oktoberfest are all great, but they are short-duration, big, and expensive. An excellent complement to these big anchors are small, low-overhead, inexpensive, unique, funky, risky, experimental gigs. It’s so simple.

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Hub Haps #007-Alexis Ohanian in the Communitech house


reddit founder, Y Combinator partner, and now podcaster, Alexis Ohanian dropped in for Techtoberfest at Communitech yesterday along with his film crew, all the way from Brooklyn. This is the third Techtoberfest he has hit here, so he must be seeing something he likes. Check out his new thing: NYRD Radio.

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1shot #197-King and Queen


KFD on the job last night.

At King and Queen, this is Kitchener.


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Hub Haps #006-orange you glad for these bikes?


Y’all know I love bikes. Happily, this week saw the installation of a new Community Access Bikeshare station out in front of my favourite haunt, the Communitech Hub. Another instance of the great stuff coming out of The Working Centre and a concrete step supporting alternatives to the car. Catherine Thompson wrote it up in The Record.

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DIYDAY2-awesome returns Nov 1


Hey WR, my friend Marc Lecompte, an unsung pillar of the local creative ecosystem is putting on a second edition of his awesome gathering of makers last year: it’s DIYDAY2, coming Saturday, November 1st at Chainsaw. Noon to 5pm. You really gotta go to this to understand the vibe.

I hear a lot of talk about “place-making” and the importance of a diverse cultural fabric in our region’s economic prosperity. Well, gentle readers, this is where the rubber hits the road. Marc and 30 makers, musicians, and characters of all kind are putting it out there Nov 1. No focus sessions, no consultations, no giant plan, all GSD. Come out and drop a couple sawbucks on a content creator.

This is Waterloo.


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Heads-up for the Premier

Premier Wynne scrum 2014-10-10-134

Heads-up for the Premier” was the quintessentially Canadian phrase I heard from the hallway right before Premier Kathleen Wynne walked into the scrum set up at CIGI on Friday. I was shooting the CityAge conference and just tagged along to the scrum after the Premier addressed conference attendees. Regular readers know I am fascinated by the meta level of media capture, leading me to frequently shoot photographers shooting something else. This scrum was no exception.

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