Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Games

Jumpman_2I’ve never been much of a video game player. The number of video games I’ve ever really gotten into can be counted on one hand. I remember playing Jumpman Jr on my Dad’s Commodore 64. The main character was a pixelated stick figure who you could make climb ups pixelated rope or pixelated ladder, trying to avoid being shot by a bullet (which was a single pixel) while you.. hmmm… I can’t actually remember what the object of that game was.

In university my friend Therese and I enjoyed a game called Theme Hospital where you built hospitals. It was sort of Sim City-like and you had to decide who to hire (nurses, doctors, custodians, etc), what units to build (more surgical suites or more diagnostic imaging rooms?) and how many vending machines to put into your waiting room (if you put enough, you got an award from the national dental association for increasing business for them). During those times I also played NHL ’98, as my then husband got me hooked on that one.

The next video game I played wasn’t for probably a decade or so – Boogie Bunnies. It was like the various jewel matching games, but you had to match bunnies of the same colour. When you matched them they danced and giggled and blew up. I never understood why those bunnies were so happy about getting blown up, but the game was rather addicting.

Fast forward to last year, when my then boyfriend’s kids got me playing an iPhone/iPad game called Cooking Fever.  In this game, you serve meals to people at various restaurants. You can upgrade your kitchen equipment, your ingredients, and your restaurant’s interior to make more money and then use that money to but more upgrades and more restaurants. Now, I have to point out that in my youth I worked in restaurants serving food to people and I hated it, yet here I am playing a game doing exactly that, but for fun. This game really lends itself to completism, because you work to complete all the levels of a given restaurant and then you want to complete all the tasks in a given restaurant (one of which is to complete all levels with 3/3 stars), but then there is a list of achievements to complete across the whole game (like upgrade 5 of your restaurants or make a total of one million dollars from your restaurants) and you want to complete those. I’ve now completed everything in the game and so have to wait for the occasional “challenges”, where you get a limited amount of time to complete 15 new levels, or new restaurants, which don’t come out all that often because they must take a lot of work to create.

Soon after all that, my Twitter friend Jen introduced me to Neko Atsume or, as I call it, the internets kitty game. The object of this iPhone game is to attract cats to your yard by putting out food and toys for them. In appreciation, the cats leave you sardines or goldfish, which you can use to but more food and toys (why a cat would leave you a fish rather than just eating the fish is beyond me, but I guess I’m not an internets cat, so I just don’t understand how their minds work). There are special rare cats that require specific combinations of certain toys and food to show up and your goal is to get all the cars to come to your yard, get photos of them when they are there to fill up you album, and get them to come enough times that they leave you a special gift. It’s another game that really lends itself to completism.

Internet cats

A whole bunch of Internet cats in my yard!

And now we have Pokémon GO. I downloaded it to check what all the hype was about and started playing it like I do most games – I just randomly click thinks and see what happens. I’ve been able to figure out the basics – you create a character for yourself (the game walks you through this part) and then you start walking around and the game uses GPS to show your character on a map. When you encounter a Pokémon, you can throw a PokéBall at it and trap it; if you manage to do this, the Pokémon is registered in your Pokédex (which I gather is a list of all the Pokémon you have caught) and you get points that I don’t know what they are for. Sometimes you catch a Pokémon but it manages to escape from the PokéBall – I assume that these are stronger Pokémon and I need to do something in order to be stronger to catch those one – thought I’m totally guessing on that. Real life locations are PokéStops – places where you can stock up on PokéBalls that you use to catch Pokémon that you encounter, as well as other objects that I have no idea what they do. A building, a piece of public art, or other such location can all be PokéStops – you see them on your map as your wander around and if get close enough to them, then you can stock up on stuff. There are also PokéGyms, which I assume you train at to get better at catching Pokémon, but that’s just a guess because the one time I was at a PokéGym, my game playing technique of randomly clicking things was not effective – I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do and then it told me that I lost. I think I may have to actually read about how you are supposed to play this game if I want to go any further with it.

Pokemon GO

A Pokémon in my kitchen!

Pokemon GO

A scary Pokémon I caught on my way to my massage appointment the other night

Pokemon GO

This Pokémon was in the Skytrain station. I wonder if he tapped in?

Pokemon GO

This Pokémon was in my office! These things are everywhere!

Image Credits:
Jumpman posted by Abel-Archer on Flickr

Theme Hospital posted on Wikipedia under fair use.

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Various Updates

Life seems to have gotten extra busy, so I’m resorting to writing this blog posting on my phone during my morning commute [and then posting it tonight, now that I’m home from my hockey game, with a few edits made and photos inserted!], despite just yesterday saying to my sister “I don’t know how you can write a journal article on your phone!” I stand by my sentiment that this is not the ideal way to type out a long piece of writing but (a) my evenings for the foreseeable future are booked up and (b) when I tried to turn on my ereader just now, the battery was dead so what else am I going to do on this Skytrain ride?

Foot Update

  • It’s been a month since I sprained my ankle. It’s not 100% healed, but it’s mostly there. Been sporting this awesome kin tape – I have no idea if it actually does anything, but figured it can’t hurt. I’ve gotten back to hockey (after 2 weeks off) and a running (after 3 weeks off), though on my runs on Saturday and Monday my left knee was bugging me, so I’m probably compensating for the ankle even though I don’t feel the ankle. I‘m going to get got it checked out today after work to see if it needs adjusting or strengthening or something [and I got some work done on it to work some of the edema out – because it was still a bit swollen today – among other things. Hopefully that will help me get to 100%.
  • As if having a sprained ankle wasn’t bad enough, last week I did this to my toe at hockey:
    Hockey injury But I didn’t do it *playing* hockey. I did it by stubbing my toe on my hockey bag after the game. It looked much worse than it felt, thank goodness!

Garden Update

  • For the most part, my garden is doing quite well, with the notable exception of my tomato plant, which died. When I was away in St. John’s I had to put my whole garden inside as my strata decided that that was the exact perfect time to power wash and paint my balcony and so I couldn’t have anything out there. The tomato plant did not survive that. I just bought a new tomato plant to replace it – hopefully there are no more unforeseen upheavals of my garden this summer.

    My new tomato plant

    This is the new tomato plant I bought. Wish me luck getting it to tomato!

  • When I put my garden inside my condo for a week, my jalapeño plant had two little jalapeños and many little buds. The buds never ended up blooming, but the jalapeños that has started kept going and now about a dozen more buds have budded. I can’t wait until the first ones are ready to eat.
    My first two jalapenos

    My first two jalapeños

    Jalapeno buds

    Jalapeño buds

  • Prior to the Great Upheaval of the garden being moved indoors, my cilantro plant had bolted. I didn’t even know that was a thing until it happened – my cilantro plant shot up to about 2 ft I’m height and the leaves went all feathery. Dr. Google explained to me that cilantro plants don’t like it when it is hot, so when the temperature gets too high they start to bud, then shoot up I’m height and go to seed – the idea being that the seeds will fall and the plant will regrow when conditions are better. If you catch the buds early enough you can cut them off and keep your plant going, but I knew nothing (Beth Snow) of this until it was too late. So I let it go to see and then harvested the seeds and have now planted them. And now we wait to see if they will grow.
    Coriander seeds that I harvested after my cilantro plant bolt4ed

    Freshly harvested coriander seeds

    I did manage to get this parsley to grow from seed1, but it was seed that I bought rather than seed that I harvested.

Goals Update:

I’ve tried out making quite a few new food items towards my goal of making 16 new food or drink items I’ve never made before.These include this grilled zucchini salad:

Country-style pork ribs:

Country style pork ribs

Garlic Scapes2 – I made them both sautéed and BBQ’d:

Garlic scape

Homemade Salsa:

My first batch of salsa

Smashed potatoes ((These are delicious. I’ve made them several times now because they are good!)):

Smashed potatoes

I’ve made a total of 11 so far and since it’s only just past halfway through the year, I’m ahead of schedule.

Another goal for this year is to knock 16 items off my 101 list and so far I’ve only done 3 in 2016, which means I’m way behind schedule on that one! The most recent of the 3 was to “go for a ride in a float plane”, which I did when I returned from Salt Spring Island to Vancouver last week. It was super cool!

Tangent: While on Salt Spring, we played a fair bit of tennis. I tracked it with my GPS watch to see how far I ran – here’s a map of one of our matches:

Tennis, as tracked by my GPS watch

We also saw some goats and chickens at Salt Spring Island Cheese:

Goats at Salt Spring Island Cheese

Chickens at Salt Spring Island Cheese

Cat Update

My cats are still the most awesome cats who have ever catted. Even despite the fact that Watson is kind of a jerk who never lets his sister on the cat tree. You know the giant cat tree that I bought them that is big enough for like 10 cats? Watson seems to think it’s not big enough for more than 1 cat. And if the 1 cat is not him, then it’s not even big enough for 1. If Crick tries to go to there, he chases her off. Sometimes he doesn’t even stay on the tree – he just doesn’t want her on there. Like I said, he’s kind of a jerk. But I still love him.

Watson won't let Crick onto the cat tree

Poor Crick is relegated to siting on the fireplace mantle, since Watson will not share the cat tree.

Lord Commander Watson Snow, the Watcher on the Wall

Lord Commander Watson Snow is the Watcher on the Wall

Crick gets him back by eating his food. I always put their food in two dishes and usually, Watson will have a few bites and then wander away to clean himself. Meanwhile, Crick eats her entire dish and then starts in on his. She’s a little piglet. And I love her.

Crick is hiding under the open dishwasher

Crick is hiding from her brother

Watson

Watson is keeping up with the news

Crick thinks she's a shoe

Crisk is disguising herself as a shoe

It's too bright in here!

It’s too bright in here!

  1. All my other herbs have been from seedlings. []
  2. Why has no one ever told me about garlic scapes before? I got them at the New West Farmer’s Market, w It’s the top part of the garlic, is only available for a short period each year, and is like a mild garlic taste without the bite. Very cool! []

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Welcome to the World, My New Passport – I Have Big Plans for You!

PassportsMy new passport surprised me by arriving 12 days before its expected due date. It’s a 10-year passport, which means it’s got lots of pages (which I’m eager to fill up with stamps!). The pages are fancier than my previous passport1, which all contained a big maple leaf with a bunch of little maple leaves2 in the background; the new passport has a different image of Canadiana on each page – there’s Terry Fox and Nellie McClung and the last spike in the railroad and parliament buildings and symbols of Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, just to name a few. This version of the Canadian passport also contains a “contactless integrated circuit” – so it’s pretty much a cyborg.

Unlike when I got my last passport, when I had no specific plans of where I was going to go with the passport, I actually have a big international trip planned, which I just realizing that I haven’t blogged about at all! In the fall I’ll be going to Australia! I have a conference to attend in Perth3, and then my travelling companion and I will be heading to Byron Bay for some surfing, then Sydney for some citying, and then on the way home we have two days in Hong Kong. Because we have to fly home via Hong Kong, so why spend 2 hours in HK when you can spend 2 days there?

Passports

Old passport on the left, new passport on the right. Enjoy your retirement, old passport! You earned it!

In addition to getting my passport renewed, I also had to get something known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) – everyone (unless they are from New Zealand, has to get one in order to be able to enter Australia. It was a simple online application and then you don’t even need to put something in your passport; apparently you end up on some list that the airline can check before you board a plane to Australia and the borders peeps Down Under can check when you get there. So I’ve done that, booked flights, registered for the conference, booked hotels and AirBnBs in the various locations we are going to be, and researched fun stuff to do. Perth, which is in Western Australia, has all kinds of cool things we can do, including (but not limited to): desert tour with sandboarding, winery tours, visiting a haunted prison, and Rottnest Island, home to the cutest animal in existence: the quokka! Seriously guys, look at this freaking thing:

World happiest animal, Quokka

Byron Bay was chosen as our surfing location as apparently it’s a good place for beginning surfers to learn.

And speaking of surfing, let us not forget that January is a certain someone’s certain special birthday and everyone has been invited to join me for a surfing trip to Hawaii! I have done zero planning on that trip so far, despite having 7.5 years of planning time! I haven’t even figured out what part of Hawaii to go to – anyone who knows Hawaii well, I’m open to suggestions!.

My other upcoming trip on which I will be taking this new passport is to go to San Diego in November to run in the USA Half Marathon Invitational! This race is one that you have to qualify to get into – and since my Vancouver BMO half & Montreal half last year were both good enough, I was able to register! I’ve also made zero plans for that trip, though I have some Air Miles that I need to use up before next year, so I’ll likely be using those.

So, it looks like my new passport is going to get quite a workout in the first 6 months of its life with me! I wonder what other places I’ll take it in the subsequent 9.5 years?

Image Credit: Quokka photo posted by Jin Xiang on Flickr.

  1. And, if fact, all three of my previous passports, which look just like my most recently retired one. []
  2. I nearly just typed that at “maple leafs”! []
  3. Which means that I get to check item #37 off my 101 list: “Present at a conference at an international location (not including USA)” []

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Happy Birthday Nancy!

Today is my sister’s birthday.

This excellent photo of me and my sister was the result of us trying to take a selfie that got both of us and the “Snow’s Lane” lane in the background into the same shot on our recent trip to Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the only shot where we managed to do so and neither of us are looking at the camera.

Snow's Lane

Happy birthday, Nancy! Here’s to many more years of fun trips, ambitious projects, excellent photo ops, and general high jinks with my favourite sister!

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Things I Did On My Long Weekend, in No Particular Order

  • attended a Canada Day event at the Gallery in Queen’s Park as part of board of the Arts Council of New Westminster
  • watched some horses running around a track
  • did not bet on said horses
  • but did enjoy a dinner paid for with the winnings of someone who did bet on said horses1
  • enjoyed some free jazz
  • BBQ’d some steaks
  • reviewed textbooks for the course I’m going to teach in September
  • watched a terrible movie on Netflix
  • tried to watch a better movie on Netflix, but fell asleep during said movie
  • wore this awesome compression sock2 to keep the swelling of my ankle down:

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    • cleaned the frogs’ tank:

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    • played with my kitties
    • read my book club book ((So far I’m *really* enjoying it, but I absolutely *hate* the protagonist’s name.)) in a park
    • read my book club book at the New West Pier Park:

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  • booked a ticket for a trip on a float plane from Salt Spring Island3
  1. I realized that given that the odds of gambling are ever in the house’s favour (and not the gambler’s), the “joy” of betting, imho, is in giving you a horse to cheer for (since one is more likely to experience the sadness of losing their money rather than the joy of winning it). So I just cheer for the horse of whoever I’m hanging out with. All the fun of cheering, no risk of losing any of my money! #Cheap []
  2. My options were this, solid black, or leopard print. I think I made the right choice. []
  3. Taking a ride on a float plane just so happens to be #35 on my list of 101 things to do! []

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The Agony of Da Ankle

Hey, remember that time I rolled my ankle one week before the Scotiabank half marathon, but I was all “it’s just a little tweak and I’m totes going to be fine to run 21.1 km in a week”? Yeah, so, apparently that “little tweak” was a “grade 1 sprain” and I was totes not fine to run any number of km on Sunday.

On Monday and Tuesday I was in denial that this was really a sprain and was convinced I’d be fine by mid-week.

On Wednesday I realized that I probably shouldn’t play my hockey game, as my ankle was still swollen and I didn’t want to aggravate it such that I wouldn’t be able to run on Sunday1.

Ankle.PNGOn Thursday, I slowly started to come to the realization that I might not be able to run the race I’d just spent three months training for and it made me really sad. Like, I was on the edge of tears much of the day. Frustrated that I wasn’t going to get to add a new medal to my collection, despite having done my three months of training. Frustrated that the Scotiabank half marathon has a “deadline” for withdrawing from the race due to injury that is *two weeks* before the event, as if you can’t get injured in the 14 days leading up to race day2. Frustrated with yet another health issue that, while minor, was enough to screw with my running season this year. Wishing that I’d gone running last Sunday, when it wasn’t raining, instead of Saturday, when it was pouring to hard that there were giants puddles to hide such things as uneven bits of pavement on which an unsuspecting running might roll their ankle.

By Friday, with my ankle still just as swollen as it was on Monday and still not able to walk, let alone run, without limping, I had accepted that I really, really wasn’t going to be able to run. And I found myself in the bizarre situation of having to justify to a variety of other people that it really wouldn’t be a good idea to run on an injured ankle. Usually I’m the one who is all “I can just walk it off” and everyone else is all “Don’t be silly! You’ll make it worse and then put yourself out of commission for even longer!”

I went to the race expo on Friday to pick up my race package – since I wasn’t able to withdraw my registration due to injury thanks to the Scotiabank half marathon’s absurd deadline for such withdrawals, I figured I may as well pick up my race shirt – it is now officially the most expensive shirt that I own!

When I try to look on the bright side, this is actually the first race I’ve ever missed out on due to injury. And when you consider that I’ve run 13 half marathons, as well as 13 races of other distances, over the past almost 10 years since I started racing, that’s actually not a bad track record. And while I missed out on a medal, this year’s Scotiabank half marathon medal doesn’t really look much different from the medal I got from running the Scotiabank half in 2014, so it’s not like I missed out on an exciting medal for my collection.

Other random thoughts about my ankle predicament:

  • Not being able to do any physical activity for the past week and a half has been killing me. When you are in a routine of doing regular exercise, you get really antsy when you can’t do it. I only just occurred to me the other day that, while I can’t do any of my usual forms of exercise – running, hockey, or biking – I could use this opportunity to do some upper body weight training (while sitting, so as not to aggravate my ankle. In fact, I’m going to head down to my building’s exercise room to do that right after I finish this posting).
  • Also killing me is that I’ve had to wear flat shoes! Last week was particularly bad, as it was too cold and wet out for sandals, and I discovered I really only have one pair of non-sandal flats that I can wear to work. Clearly, I need to do some shoe shopping!
  • Even hobbling on a gimpy ankle, I’m still faster than at least half of the people in the Skytrain station.
  • Even with a bandaged ankle, precious few will offer you a seat on the bus or Skytrain… there were even people who I saw look at my bandaged ankle and then go back to reading crap on their phones. On one Skytrain ride a woman got up to give me her seat… and she was pregnant! I said I couldn’t take a seat from a pregnant woman, but she refused to sit down, insisting that both her legs were at least working. All around sat many non-pregnant, non-bandaged people watching this conversation, until finally one person actually offered to give up her seat as well.
  • When my mom heard about my sprained ankle, she suggested I try out Voltaren, a topical gel that works to decrease pain and swelling. I’d never heard of it before, but when I mentioned it to some people at work they were like “OMG, it’s the greatest thing every invented!!!” I’ve been using it since she suggested it; my sister asked me today if it was working and I said “I don’t know. I have no control ankle to see how it would have healed without it.” Her reply “Common Bethy…sprain the other one along with that one when it heals to test it out!” Obviously, I have failed as a scientist.
  • Speaking of Voltaren3, I keep forgetting what it’s called. I may have said that I’m putting Voltron on my ankle at one point, and I may also have said that I have to put some Virtanen on my ankle a few other times4. Jake Virtanen, for the uninitiated, is an adorable player for the Vancouver Canucks (who just so happens to have been born in New Westminster!).

My ankle definitely felt better this week compared to last, so I’m hoping that another few days of rest will have the swelling gone. I’m going to start rehabbing it with some ankle strengthening exercises. And I’ve already looked into another half marathon to replace this one: the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon on Labour Day weekend. You get to run through Kelowna, which is beautiful, you get to go to a wine festival afterwards, and there is a medal (though I don’t know what it looks like, I do know it will be one I don’t have yet!).

OK, I’m off to go do some biceps curls now!

Image credits:

Drawing of ligaments in the ankle. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1176993

  1. In retrospect, I think this was the “bargaining” stage of grief “If I skip hockey, I’ll get to run the race” – I seemed to have skipped right past the “anger” stage of grief. []
  2. I think they should at least let you transfer your registration to next year if you can produce a medical note to verify your injury. Because these races aren’t cheap! []
  3. Which autocorrects to Voltaire. Autocorrect, you are so pretentious! []
  4. The first time by accident and the other times because I thought it was hilarious. []

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Dear My Old Passport

Dear My Old Passport

You came into my life just over five years ago and I promised to take you to all sorts of wondrous places. And while I didn’t take you to most of the places on the list of places I said I would like to take you, I took you to a bunch of other places instead. Because I’m spontaneously like that.

We did go to London – the only city on the list – but then we went to a whole bunch of places I didn’t even think to put on the list. In addition to the stamps from Heathrow, you have stamps from Dublin, Zürich, and Geneva – the latter two of which were just stopovers in airports – and you accompanied me to France and Monaco, though we got no stamps in either of those places. And of course, there were trips to the USA – you got stamped when we went to Hollywood, California, to San Francisco, and to Kansas City, MO by plane – and you didn’t get stamped when we went to Portland or to Seattle by car. It’s not nearly as much travel as I would like to have done in the past five years – noticeably absent from this list is any glorious tropical locations – but I truly did enjoy all the places we went.

As much fun as our adventures have been, our time together is coming to an end. Your expiry dates looms and that means I have to trade you in for a newer model. I’ve had my terrible passport photos taken and I’ve filled out my Simplified Renewal Passport Application, and I’ll drop those things off, along with you, at the Service Canada office tomorrow and then will eagerly await your replacement, which will be valid for a glorious 10 years.

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But I’ve specifically checked the box requesting you be returned to me:

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The next time I see you after that you’ll be mutilated – a big red “Cancelled” will be stamped in you and your corner will be cut off so that no one will mistake you for a valid document. But you’ll still have your stamps of the places we went together – and as you were the passport that was with my on the first time I left the continent, you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

Yours most sincerely,

Your Loving Owner

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One week until the Scotiabank half marathon…

… and this is what my left ankle looks like:

Swollen ankle

🙁

While out for a run yesterday, I stepped on an uneven bit of pavement and went over on my ankle a bit. I felt the tweak at the time it happened, but it didn’t hurt and so I continued on my merry way. And I was actually surprisingly merry given that it was a torrential downpour that I was running in! When I got home, I was so wet that I looked like I’d jumped in the river! My socks contained 57 ml of water1! Later in the day, I could definitely feel that I’d done something to my ankle, but it looked fine. I’ve kept off my feet as much as possible yesterday and today, but this afternoon I looked at it and saw it was quite swollen. I’m sitting with some ice on it right now and that seems to be helping.

This just seems to be par for the course for my training this year, which has gone something like this:

  • went running on Jan 9, then got a really bad cold that kept me from running
  • went running 3 times in a week (so think I’m really getting my training going) in mid-Feb, then got food poisoning and then before I got back to running, I got zombie eyeball disease

In March, I finally got back into running regularly, but it’s just been… hard. I usually have most of my runs where I feel great, whereas this year I feel like I’ve had at least a run every two weeks that’s been tough. My zone 1 pace (which is where I am supposed to do most of my training – keeping my average heart rate at ~148) has been much slower than I’d like and though it’s improved a bit, it’s not improved as much as I would have liked. Halfway through last week’s 19 km run, my IT band started killing me (though foam rolling this week seems to have helped). And now it’s a week before the race and I have an injured ankle. I was really hoping to do some good little race prep runs this week, but now I think I’ll hold off until my ankle feels better… or until race day comes – whatever comes first.

OK, I think it’s time to switch to a heat pack on my ankle.

Also – don’t forget that there’s still time to sponsor my run with a donation to my fundraiser for the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Organization!

  1. My socks were soooo wet that I just had to weigh them and then I weighed an identical pair that I have that were dry – the difference was 57 g, which means there was 57 ml of water in my socks! []

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10 of 13

I have officially been to all of the Canadian provinces! And before you ask, no, I haven’t been to all three territories… yet – I’ve only been to one of them – but that’s why I said all of the provinces1. Some of the provinces I’ve spent a lot of time in, others I’ve just driven through. But I have set foot in every single province and none of them were only in airport stopovers, which, I understand, is the only way many people have experienced a given place2. For the record, here are my experiences of the 10 provinces (and one territory… so far) in the order that I’ve been to them:

  • Ontario: I was born in this province, so I have spent of time there, both in the 23 years that I lived there and on many, many trips to visit family and friends (and occasionally for work meetings in Ottawa) since I left.
  • Quebec: Both of my parents grew up in Montreal, so there was many a family vacation to La Belle Province in my childhood. I’ve also been there on work trips and, mostly recently, the run the Montreal demi-marathon last year.
  • Prince Edward Island: My childhood best friend moved to PEI, so I went on a trip there in the summer after grade 8. I remember liking Cows Ice Cream and the Anne of Green Gables house. I also met my first boyfriend there – he lived in my hometown and his family was visiting my best friend’s family at the same time as I was visiting.
  • British Columbia: My first trip to BC was with the man who would later become my ex-husband (MWWLBMEH), to visit his Mom, little brother, and little sister who were living in Chilliwack, when he and I were living in Ontario. I ended up moving there to do my PhD (mostly because the MWWLBMEH grew up there and wanted to move back) and liked living here so much that I stayed.
  • Manitoba: I drove through the province of Manitoba when I was moving from Ontario to BC. We only stopped in Winnipeg to grab something to eat, as we decided to drive from Thunder Bay, ON to Regina, SK in one day; thus, the only thing I know about Winnipeg is that it has a Pizza Hut (or, it did in Aug 2000 anyway).
  • Saskatchewan: Also have only been here on my moving trip across the country, when we spent a day in Regina, as the MWWLBMEH had friends there that we wanted to visit.
  • Alberta: My first time in Alberta was on the cross country move and we had a less than fantastic time in Calgary (the car we were towing behind our moving truck came off its trailer and we had to get help from a grumpy tow truck driver whose driveway we were inadvertently blocking. This would be a harbinger of future trips to Calgary – suffice it to say that Calgary is not favourite city. I’ve also been to Edmonton for work and Kananaskis for someone else’s work – Kananaskis was amazing! As was driving through the Rockies on my initial trip through Alberta, now that I think of it.
  • New Brunswick: I went here for a conference – the conference was good but I was underwhelmed by New Brunswick, though admittedly I was in Fredericton and have been told that St. John is much nicer.
  • Nova Scotia: I went to Halifax (which is, coincidentally, my mother’s birthplace) for a conference last year – I was expecting Nova Scotia to be more quaint, though I’ve since been told that you need to leave the city of Halifax to find the quaintness.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: My 10th and final province, that I went to for a conference. My great grandmother (my dad’s, dad’s mom) landed in Harbour Grace, NL when he immigrated from England to Canada, so it was kind of special to be able to go there.

Bonus: 1 Territory

  • Northwest Territories: I went to Yellowknife for work in 2008. I was teaching a course at UBC at the time, so I could only go for the two days of meetings that I had to be at and then had to come right back to teach. Wished I’d had a chance to see more than just the meeting rooms at the hotel and a tiny bit of the city when I walked to the store (though I was very cold!)

So now I just need to get to the Yukon and Nunavut. Living in Vancouver, I feel like tit should be relatively easy to get to the former, but the latter will probably prove to be a bigger challenge!

  1. I can’t count how many times I said before my trip “Once I get to St. John’s all have been of the provinces!” only to be greeted with “And all the territories??” as if having traversed the second largest country on the planet isn’t cause enough for celebration! []
  2. For example, lots of Vancouverites have told me they’ve only been to Toronto airport (which isn’t even in Toronto). I’ve been to Switzerland twice – once in the Zurich airport and another time in the Geneva airport, so though I’ve technically been there, I don’t think it *really* counts []

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Trip to Newfoundland and Labrador

Except I didn’t actually go to Labrador, but the province is officially called “Newfoundland and Labrador”, so it’s technically correct to say I went to Newfoundland and Labrador without setting foot in the Labrador part. It’s kind of confusing, but there you have it.

Canadian Provinces and Territories

Map of Canada highlighting the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The island is Newfoundland and the part on the mainland is Labrador. Image source: By TUBS

The reason for the trip was to attend the Canadian Evaluation Society’s 2016 conference being held in St. John’s, NL from June 3-6. I won’t bore you with all the conference stuff1, but I will tell you that my sister and I did a pre-conference workshop on a project we’ve been working on together, along with her partner, Jeff, and it got a fantastic reception2. As well, I did a presentation on my big project at work that also drew a good sized and much engaged audience, which made me happy.

The most exciting non-work part of the conference was the screech in ceremony at the closing reception. Screeching In, for the uninitiated, is a Newfoundland and Labradorian tradition whereby people “from away” (i.e., not from NL) take a shot of screech3, say some NL phrases, and kiss a cod and are then declared an honorary Newfoundlander and Labradorian. Everyone was quite excited by this event and I have to say I quite enjoyed it, though the screech was probably the worst rum I’ve ever had and kissing a cod is disgusting!

Screeching in ceremony at CES 2016 conferene

My sister and I with our shots of screech

Screeching in ceremony at CES 2016 conferene

Me, just after kissing the cod (Didn’t manage to capture the kiss on camera). It was truly disgusting.

Screeching in ceremony at CES 2016 conferene

Official certificate to provide that I have, in fact, been screeched in. I will frame it and hang it next to my Official Irish Whiskey taster certificate.

Since we’d flown such a long way to get there and neither Inor my sister had been to Newfoundland before, we decided to tag on a couple of vacation days to check a bit of it out. NL is actually quite huge, so we only got to explore a tiny fraction of it, but we did get to:

  • Dildo: Seriously, there is a town in NL called Dildo and I made my sister drive there just so I could take this picture:

    Dildo, NL

    There is nothing in the town of Dildo. You pretty much just go there to take a photo with the town sign.

  • South Dildo: Somehow, I think South Dildo is even funnier than Dildo. Sadly, we did not see a town sign when we drove through South Dildo, but I took this screen shot of Google Maps as we drove through it to prove we were there:South Dildo, NL
  • Harbour Grace:My Great Granny Snow (my dad’s dad’s mom) lived in Harbour Grace when she immigrated to Canada from England, so my sister and I decided to go check it out. We had no idea where exactly she lived beyond the fact that it was a house on the water near some trees, which describes pretty much every house in Harbour Grace4. It’s not a very big town and we drove along the aptly named Water St, so we think we probably drove by where her house would have been. The day we went to Harbour Grace was my dad’s birthday. While we were looking around we saw a big church that we wanted to check out, but it turned out to be under renovation and had a gate with a “no trespassing” sign on it. Anyone who knew my father will tell you that he viewed a “no trespassing” or “do not enter” sign as not so much a notice that you should not go to that place, but as an indication that you probably should. “They wouldn’t put a sign up saying to “stay out” unless there was something good in there that you would want to see!” he used to say. So I decided to take this photo in his memory5.
    Trespassing in Harbour Grace, NL

    Me, trespassing in Harbour Grace, on my Dad’s birthday. He would be proud!

    My sister said she was spending her vacation driving around taking photos of me for my blog. She was not wrong in this statement.))

  • The Easternmost Point of North America: which is in a place called Cape Spear, which is quite close to St. John’s. Though, as my friend Linda (who was the first person to mention this place to me as a place to go) pointed out, you aren’t *actually* at the most eastern point since this viewing spot that says “You are at the Easternmost point of North America” is not actually at the shoreline, but I think this can be considered the easternmost point of North America that you can safely go to, as that ocean looks scary! So I say it still counts. I took a selfie of me there because of course I did.Me at the eastern most point in North America, at Cape Spear, NLCape Spear also has a cool old lighthouse that you can visit and learn about how the light keepers lived in the old timey days (as well as a new, functioning light house that still provides signals to ships that they are getting close to St. John’s Harbour and also don’t come over this way because it’s super rocky) because GPS can fail you sometimes.

    Cape Spear, NL

    This is the new lighthouse. I didn’t get a good photo of the old timey lighthouse, though we did go into it.

  • The Eastern Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway*: While we were meandering around NL, I got a Facebook reminder that three years ago today, I was at the Pacific Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway.
    Beth at the Pacific Terminus of the Transcanada Highway

    Three years ago

    So I thought it would be super cool to go to the Eastern Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway on the same date! Unfortunately, there isn’t a marker anywhere to show you where the Trans Canada Highway ends in St. John’s – it just sort of ends out of nowhere:

    TCH eastern terminus

    So I took a bunch of selfies as my sister drove through that section and so one of these photos has to be correct. They basically all look like this:

    Driving through the eastern terminus of the Trans Canada Highway

    At the Eastern Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway. Probably.

  • Snow’s Lane: While we were looking for the eastern terminus of the Trans Canada Highway, we noticed on the map that there was a street called “Snow’s Lane”. So naturally we had to go there. The road itself was nothing much, but at least we can say we’ve been there!Snow's Lane in St. John's, NL
  • Signal Hill: This was the hill upon which Marconi received the first ever trans-Atlantic radio signal6Signal Hill

Other random things about our trip:

  • Every restaurant we went to in St. John’s was fantastic! My favourites were Yellowbelly – a brew pub that makes the best french fries I’ve ever eaten and a pretty solid wheat ale – and Oliver’s – a fancier place where we had amazing sea scallops, I had a bourbon chicken and risotto to die for, while my sister had Atlantic salmon7, and we shared a delicious creme brûlée. Other great restaurants included the Celtic Hearth (my sister got a turkey soup that was like homemade, I got an excellent club sandwich on the freshest of breads, and I tried Quidi Vidi Iceberg beer, which is made from water harvested from icebergs! At first sip, Iceberg seems like a meh lager, but then a fraction of a second later it hits you with an outstanding flavour8. I highly recommend it!
  • It was bloody cold in St. John’s, to the point that on Wednesday it felt like biting winter cold. We were told it was unseasonably cold and it wasn’t helped by the knowledge that I was missing out on 30 degree9 weather back home in Vancouver!
  • I took this photo for my Uncle Harry. Don’t know what Harold Snow of Newfoundland was advertising, as this sign literally just said his name:IMG_2720

When I set foot in St. John’s, I officially completed my quest to visit every Canadian province. Now I just need to visit the two territories that I haven’t been to yet (Yukon and Nunavut) and I’ll have been to every part of the country!

  1. If you are interested in reading about that, you can check out my professional blog where I will be writing about that in the coming days – I’ll update the link to the specific blog posting once I post it. []
  2. I’ll probably blog about it more once it’s ready for prime time – right now it’s in a beta phase. []
  3. i.e., crappy Newfoundland rum/ []
  4. Not to mention that it’s entirely possible that the house isn’t there anymore []
  5. And, of course, to add to my collection of me doing things that signs say not to do. []
  6. For some reason, I always thought he sent the first trans-Atlantic radio signal, but he did not – he received it. []
  7. I’m a bit of a salmon snob, in that I much prefer Pacific salmon. I tried some of my sister Atlantic salmon, just in case the Atlantic stuff is better when it is fresh (which I don’t get in Vancouver), but it just isn’t as good as the Pacific stuff, imho []
  8. I’m sure the water harvested from an iceberg thing is gimmick rather than being what makes the beer awesome, but it really is an awesome beer. []
  9. Celsius. []