Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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I wish there were more time in a day!

As someone who is always trying to do all the things, I’m perpetually saying “I need more than 24 hours in a day!” Well today, for the first time in 3 years, I’m getting my wish. Today we get a leap second!

Leap seconds, which happen every once in a while, are added to our clocks “to keep Co-ordinated Universal Time (or UTC, the modern replacement for Greenwich mean time), the world standard for regulating clocks, in sync with Mean Solar Time, which marks the passage of time based on the sun’s position in the sky” (Source).

I say “every once in a while” because it’s not on a set schedule, like leap years that occur every 4 years like clockwork (pun intended). When we are going to have a leap second is decided on by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS)1.

“Between 1972 and 2012, a leap second has been inserted about every 18 months, on average. However, the spacing is quite irregular and apparently increasing: there were no leap seconds in the seven-year interval between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2005, but there were nine leap seconds in the eight years 1972–1979.” (Source).

The last time we had a leap second was 3 year ago. Here’s what it looked like:

Leap Second - June 30, 2012.png

So enjoy that extra second that you get today, everyone. Try not to spend it all in one place!

Image Credit: Posted on Wikipedia, in the public domain.

  1. At least since 1988. Prior to that, it was done by the Bureau International de l’Heure (BIH). []

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Here and Gone

So remember that time I told you about how all the houseguests were on their way to my place? Not only did that trip whizz by in the blink of an eye, but it’s been a week since they left and I’m only just now blogging about it!

In no particular order, our adventures included1 :

  • went to Bowen Island ((which just so happens to be on my list of 101 things to do)), where we had some amazingly delicious food at the Old Orchard Grill2
  • delicious dinner at Forage – I’ve been there a couple of times before, but omg, is their food ever fantastic. And their wait staff is amazing!
  • delicious breakfast at Angelina’s
  • went to my hockey game – well, my mom did. My sister was busy at her conference that day.
  • went to Daniel’s hockey game
  • went to Granville Island, where we did some shopping3 and enjoyed some Lee’s Donuts ((Dan and his student agreed with me that Lee’s Donuts kick the butt of Cartem’s Donuts!)) and some drinks at Liberty Distillery. I also bought myself an herb garden to put on my balcony ((which just so happens to be on my list of 101 things to do)) – it contains parsley, sage, chives, marjoram, and peppermint and it only cost $13!
  • my sister and Dan got to meet my kitties! My mom had already met them on her last trip, but was happy to see her grandkitties again!

Pursuing my phone, I realized that I was a delinquent in taking photos, so I have no proof that anyone actually visited me. But I did take this photo of me stopped in front of a “no stopping anytime” sign on Bowen Island, in my ongoing project to chronicle people disobeying signs.

Untitled

So there’s that.

  1. “Making a delicious meal on my BBQ” didn’t end up happening and “trying my delicious home-brewed beer” happened for Dr. Dan, but not my sister (my mom and Dan’s student don’t drink beer, so I wasn’t expecting them to). []
  2. Best. French fries. EVER! []
  3. I bought a new dress and got FOUR compliments on it the first day that I wore it! []

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All The Houseguests!

I believe that I may have mentioned 1 that my mom and my sister are coming to visit me this week. My sister is presenting at a conference here in Vancouver and my mom, being a retired lady of leisure, is coming along for the trip.

So far, our plans include:

I’m sure we’ll get up to a variety of other things, being all spontaneous-like.

But not only are my mom and sister going to be here, but I’m also having another pair of houseguests this week! As it happens, my sister told Dr. Dan about the conference she’s going to, as it’s a conference for post-secondary educators, so he also is going to said conference. Then, as it happens, through what I can only assume is some bureaucratic nonsensicality, Dr. Dan and his graduate student don’t have a hotel room on Tuesday, the day they arrive. There is, apparently, no room at the inn. They are like Mary and Joseph but without the donkey or the imminent arrival of a baby4. I had told Dan that he was most welcome to stay here if he needed, as long as he doesn’t mind it being a little cozy, what with all the houseguests and current feline and amphibian and homo sapiens residents. He agreed that this was a most cromulent arrangement and so that’s how I now will have All The Houseguests at my place on Tuesday.

Dan and his student are arriving in Vancouver on Tuesday morning, but I will be at work, so I told him that he can just drop by my office to get the keys to my place. And then I sent him this email with directions, which I’m posting here because I happen to think I’m pretty hilarious.

Dear Dr. Daniel J. Gillis,
Thank you for booking your accommodations at Chez Neige, New Westminster’s most exclusive hotel, for the night of Tues, June 16th for two guests.

Check in:

You can pick up your keys at our inconveniently located check-in desk at Beth’s office, located at [address redacted]. You can get to this location by taking the Canada Line from the YVR airport to the Broadway-City Hall station. https://goo.gl/maps/u32pa

Upon arriving at [address redacted], you can call or text Beth at [phone number redacted] and she will bring you the keys.

Getting To Your Accommodations:

From the key pick-up location, you can take the 99 bus eastbound (which leaves from in front of the Broadway-City Hall station) to the Commercial Drive Skytrain Station and then take the Skytrain eastbound to New Westminster Station (you can take either of the the archaically named Skytrains – the Expo Line or the Millennium Line from Commercial Drive Station – both of them go from Commercial Drive Station to New Westminster station): [link redacted]

Once there, it’s just a short walk to the condo. Although my address is on [street name redacted], the door to my building is not actually on [street name redacted]. The easiest way to get there is probably to just walk [directions redacted].Or you could just take a taxi to all these locations, if you are so inclined.

Hotel Amenities

Chez Neige features world class amenities, including:

  • a roof over your head
  • the finest of air mattresses
  • free booze
  • complementary cat companions for the duration of your stay

My mom and sister arrive late on Tuesday night, but they didn’t get a fun email with directions because they’ve both been to my place before.

Let the festivities begin!

  1. If I’ve seen you in real life in the last little while, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this to you eleventy billion times! []
  2. Well, my sister is anyway. My mom doesn’t like beer. []
  3. Well, my mom is anyway. I have a 6 pm game in Burnaby on Saturday, but my sister’s conference presentation, which is in downtown Vancouver, doesn’t end until 5:30 pm, so she won’t be able to make it to my game. My sister has been to see me play hockey on a previous trip, but my mom has never seen me play in real life (she saw me play online as the Longest Game for CF was live streamed), so I’m super excited that she’s coming to my game. No matter how old you get, it’s always special when your mom comes to watch your hockey game! []
  4. Well, as far as I know, neither of these two men are preggers nor are they bringing a donkey. As far as I know. []

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70

Racing pigeon

Isn’t this racing pigeon beautiful? You can tell it’s a racing pigeon because it has bands on its legs.

My dad would have been 70 years old today.

I think of all the stuff he’s missed in the past 3+ years since we lost him. My little nephew was just a tiny baby when my Dad died and now he’s getting ready to start school. My niece was only 7 – now she’s such a grown up 10 year old! He would have been so proud of the amazing people they are growing up to be.

My sister and I have both finished the Master’s degrees that we were starting just before he died. We both have big fancy new jobs. He would have been so proud of our respective accomplishments.

We Call Him Paddy

Another pretty racing pigeon, just like the kind my dad used to have.

My mom, my sister, and I have all gone on various trips, near and far, that he – not being much of a traveller himself – would have loved to have heard all about. My mom is enjoying her retirement and he should be here, enjoying it with her.

This is, by sheer coincidence, my 2600th blog posting. This is not be design – I just happened to notice it when I went to write this post. I think my dad would have liked that.

I miss you, Daddy.

Image Credits:

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My New Training Plan

Hey, remember that time I went for a running fitness assessment? Well, this past Tuesday I went to meet with Lewis at Peak Centre for a consultation, where he explains all the stuff in the report that they send you with the results of your test.

So, as it turns out, I’m a huge wimp. Lewis didn’t say that in so many words – he’s far too professional and positive to have said such a thing – but he did tell me that on the test, people usually keep running to a blood lactate level of 8-10 mmol/L, whereas I gave up at 7.2 mmol/L. I’m not the worst he’s ever seen, but I need to train my brain to accept more suffering!

2015-05-22 Fitness Assessment Results

Graphical evidence of my wimpiness. In my previous posting, which I wrote before my consultation, I’d thought that the sharp rise in my blood lactate meant that I’d run enough to be properly tired out. Apparently I was wrong.

I won’t bore you with all the details1, but some hightlights from the consultation are:

  • When you are training, you are supposed to do some of your runs slow (often called the “LSD – Long Slow Distance” run2 ) and other runs quickly (sometimes called “tempo runs” or “intervals” or “speed work”3. You often hear that runners run their slow runs too fast and their fast runs too slow. Well, it turns out I’ve been doing that. To truly know the speed you need to run on your slow runs (a.k.a., zone 1), you need to know where your aerobic threshold is – finding this out is a big reason to do the test! The aerobic threshold is the threshold below which you could run indefinitely, because you aren’t building up any lactate (lactate building up basically = fatigue). The results from the test tell you what heart rate range you need to run in in order to stay in zone 1 – for me, it’s 138-153 beats per minute. Doing this builds your aerobic base, so that, over time, your muscles will be able to go faster while still staying below the aerobic threshold. When you go above this, you aren’t training your muscles to improve your aerobic base, so you are going to hit a plateau instead. I haven’t consistently been using a heart rate monitor before this, as I didn’t know what heart rate range to be aiming for, but I’m reasonably sure based on how fast I can currently run while in my zone 1 heart rate range, that I was running my LSD runs too fast.
  • I’ve also been running my tempo runs too slowly. Apparently it is quite common that people do what they think are “tempo” runs, but they aren’t really reaching the pace that they need to reach to increase their lactate threshold (a.k.a. zone 3). Given that, as mentioned above, I’m a wimp, I’ve totally been wimping out on this and running at what I thought was fast, but I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough because did I mention I’m a wimp? The pace I need to reach for zone 3 is 5:24-5:43 min/km. This is *much* faster than my typically “tempo” run during my BMO training, which would be closer to a 5:50 average (meaning half the time I’m above that and very little of my run would have been within the zone 3 range).
  • I’ve run all my half marathons and all the LSD runs while training for a half marathon using 10 and 1s. This is where you run for 10 minutes, then walk for 1 minute, and repeat for the entire run. I’ve always run this way as my friend who got me into running did this and it’s been a habit ever since. This was something I really wanted to ask Lewis about during my consultation, as I have been wondering if it’s time for me to leave the 10 and 1s behind. His take on them is that if you are doing your zone 1 training correctly, you don’t need to take the 1 minute walk breaks because you won’t be running too fast for the long distance. When you do 10 and 1s, you tend to do the 10 minute running portion faster than you would otherwise, since you know you have a 1 minute break coming up. And that means you are running in zone 2 and thus not training your aerobic base. So, starting now, I’m say bye-bye to 10 and 1s!
  • I haven’t been refuelling properly. For a 2 hour zone 1 run, I should be taking in 116 g of carbs. My current fuel source of choice for running is Honey Stingers, which contain 39 g of carbs per package. Meaning that I should be eating 3 packages of these on a 2 hour run. I’d be lucky if I ate 1 whole package. So more attention to refuelling on the run is another thing to work on. I will also have to work on eating and drinking while I run, since I won’t be having any more 1 minute walk breaks to do that!

So basically, my game plan is:

  • run 85-90% of my training in zone 1, based on my heart rate target range
  • run 10-15% of my training in zone 2, based on my pace target4.
  • go back for another assessment half way through my training, to see if I’ve improved enough that my target ranges will have changed
  • kick some butt on the Montreal demi-marathon!

Wish me luck!

  1. *I* didn’t find it boring – it was *super* interesting, in fact. But I can imagine that you, dear reader, might not be so interested in the minutiae of my physiological state and how this relates to the details of my training plan. []
  2. a.k.a., zone 1 []
  3. “speed work”, I believe, would be super fast (a.k.a., zone 5), whereas a “tempo run” would be quite fast, but not crazy fast (a.k.a., zone 3). []
  4. Apparently these are better done on a treadmill, since it’s much easier to control pace than running outside. As much as I hate treadmills, I may just have to add this to my “learn to live with suffering” training. And really, for an interval-style of run like I’ll be doing for my zone 3 runs, I hate the treadmill less, as I at least have something to do, what with the turning the speed up and down and watching the time at which I need to turn the speed up and down. As luck would have it, the exercise room in my building *just* got a treadmill, but it’s not yet set up as we are waiting for a special adaptor plug to be delivered so we can plug it in. I guess once we have that, I’ll be getting back together with the treadmill []

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Requisite New Running Shoe Blog Posting

Near the end of my training for the BMO half, I noticed that I was getting a bit of shin splints, which, for me, is generally a sign that I need a new pair of running shoes. I thought it was kind of odd, since I didn’t think I’d had them all that long. A quick search of yew old blog showed that I’d gotten them on Oct 4, 2014, which means I’d only done the Rock’n’Roll 10 km race in October, plus the training for BMO. A search of ye old RunKeeper tells me that is only a mere 449.2 km that I’d run in them. My previous pair, which I got in September 2013, lasted me through half the training for the Fall Classic (plus the race itself), and the training for (and the races) the Hollywood Half Marathon AND Scotiabank 2014! That’s a whopping total of 901.4 km!

Anyway, by the time I realized that I needed some new shoes, it was too close to race day to break in a new pair, so I decided to just suck it up and wait until after the race. I’ve done a few runs since my race and each time, I’ve been feeling the shin splints and thinking “Oh right, I was supposed to go buy some new shoes!”

So on Saturday I headed over to the Running Room1 and, much to my delight, discovered they were having a sidewalk sale! I had brought my old shoes, as the salespeople there often like to take a look at how the shoes have worn out in order to help you find a new pair. I talked to a few salespeople, all of whom thought I was crazy when I said that I can usually get two half marathons worth of training out of single pair of runners. “I get new running shoes every 3-4 months,” said one. Good thing she has an employee discount!

Now, my usual MO when I go running shoe shopping is to bring in my old shoes, have the salesperson watch my walk and run, whereupon they say that I need a neutral shoe2. I feel it’s only fair to try on all the shoes just in case there is another one that is better, but the vast majority of the time, the Nimbus seems like it was made just for my feet!

The problem I faced on Saturday, however, was that they had the exact model of the Asics Nimbus that I had just worn out on sale (since it’s last season’s model and they are unloading them to make room for the new model). Despite *hating* the horrible pink colour, I actually quite liked them when I first got them and for most of the time I ran in them, but they wore out twice as quick as my shoes usually do. Thus, I was a hesitant to buy them again, though as one salesperson pointed out, since they are on sale ($130), if they wear out faster, it might even out because I paid less for them. The salesperson also found that they had the exact same model of Asics Nimbus, but in a non-hideous colour! (Where was that when I was buying them the first time??). So, as usual, I tried on every pair of neutral shoe that they had, and the Nimbus came out on top. However, there was also a pair of Saucony that I like almost as much, and it was only $70. So I hemmed and hawed and pretty much drove the staff nuts with my hemming and hawing, but in the end I decided to get both pairs. I figured that since they were on sale, I was getting two pairs for not much more than I usually pay for one pair. I am planning to use the Saucony pair for my short runs and my Asics pair for my long runs, figuring the Asics will last a bit longer since I won’t be putting all my miles on them and I won’t mind the Saucony ones being not quite as comfy as the Asics, since I won’t be wearing them out for long runs. I’m also considering that I might leave the Saucony pair at work as my lunch time running shoe and use the Asics for runs at home. It’s like having home and away jerseys, but they are shoes.

Anyhoo, this has been a much longer posting then I thought it would and probably no one is still reading. But every Requisite New Running Shoe Blog Posting must also have a photo of said running shoes and I am pleased to report that the era of the hideously garish running shoe has come to a close. Also, to reward anyone who is still reading, there is also a cat in the photo.

New running shoes

This was the best photo of the shoes that I could get, as every other photo attempt either had Watson sticking his face in the camera or was blurred because Watson was trying to eat the camera. Also also, for the record, I did not, in fact, get one shoe from each pair. There are partners for each of these shoes – they were just a little camera shy.

  1. As per usual, I have no affiliation with this store. I just like their service! []
  2. As opposed to shoes for those who pronate or supinate), then I make them bring me every neutral shoe in the store, which I dutifully try on, running around in each pair, and then I buy the Asics Nimbus ((I started with the Asics Cumulus, but then progressed to the Nimbus. In my running career, I remember one time where there was a shoe that I liked better than either the Cumulus and the Nimbus – it was a Saucony shoe and it felt amazing on my feet. But when that pair was done, I did my usual routine of trying on all the shoes and it was back to the Nimbus. There was another time where the Nimbus felt the best when I tried it on in the store, but then when I actually used it for running distances, there was a spot that constantly rubbed on the bottom inside of my foot and I hated those shoes, but continued to wear them until they wore out, because I am nothing if not cheap. []

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My Fitness Assessment

Last  Friday after work, I headed to the Peak Centre for Human Performance ((As per usual, I haven’t received any form of compensation for writing about this company. I paid for my fitness assessment and just thought it was pretty cool and wanted to share!)) for my first ever fitness assessment!

Since I’ve never done a fitness assessment before, I did the full meal deal: VO2max, blood lactate, and energy usage. The test involves running on a treadmill and, every three minutes, the speed of the treadmill is increased until you can’t run anymore. While this is going on, you are breathing through a snorkel attached to a tube that is attached to a machine that measures how much oxygen is in the air you are breathing in and out; as well, blood samples are taken through pricking your finger.

VO2max test

Me running my VO2max test

VO2max is a measure of the maximal rate of oxygen consumption as you exercise until the point that you can’t go anymore and it’s a measure of your aerobic (i.e., oxygen-using) physical fitness. Blood lactate analysis involves tracking your increasing blood lactate levels as you run faster and faster and the graph of your blood lactate levels shows you how your body responds to the increasing exercise. You can use this information to determine the optimal intensity at which you should train in order to improve performance.

Computer with fitness data

The computer that was crunching all my fitness-y data

As you know, I’m not really a fan of treadmills, as I generally find them rather boring. But in this case, there was enough going on, what with trying to focus on running form (and, as things got faster, trying to focus running as hard as I could and not barfing), plus having to have a blood sample taken every three minutes, plus trying not to hyperventilate because I was breathing in a tube, that the treadmill part was actually OK. And the first three of 3-minute segments, which I ran at 7 km/hr, 8 km/hr, and 9 km/hr, respectively, went along quite smoothly. At the fourth segment, however, I could feel my breathing getting laboured and by the end of the fourth segment was starting to wonder how much more I could really last. When Paul, the guy running my test, said “You are already a minute into this one!” during my fifth segment, which I was running at 11 km/hr, I thought I was going to die because it had been thinking immediately before that “just hold out a few more seconds, I’m sure it’s almost been three minutes!” But I managed to push on, seriously thinking that I was going to barf into my snorkel and/or my lungs were going to explode. Paul took my blood sample and then asked if I was reading to go to the next speed and I just couldn’t do it. So that brought the test to an end and I was able to take off the snorkel and then gasp for breath like a dying woman, and then do a short cool down jog. After a few minutes, however, I felt so much better that all I could think was “Why did I stop? I totally feel like I can run just fine now! I’m such a wimp!”

But when I got my results emailed, I saw why I stopped:

2015-05-22 Fitness Assessment Results

The red line in the chart above is my heart rate, which you see rises pretty much linearly as my running speed rising. The blue line is my blood lactate concentration, which you see rises exponentially as my speed increases.

In retrospect, I do wish I had had it in me to run even 5 seconds at the next speed because it would have given me one more datum1 on my graph! And you know how I loves me more data!

The other important piece of information from my results is my VO2max, which clocked in at 41.6 mL/kg/min. Of course, I couldn’t remember for the life of me what a good value for VO2max is2. According to this random page on the Internets, my VO2max is “superior”3. In fact, it would still be classified as “superior” even if I were in my 20s, and it would be at the high end of “excellent” if I were in my teens! This all makes me feel very happy and making having all those finger pricks and feeling like I was going to die worthwhile!

The report I received also provides me with some guidance on the heart rate level/pace at which I should run my long slow distance runs vs. my speed work and suggest that I should focus on the aerobic training (85-90% of my running) with a bit (10-15%) of intense training. I have a consultation next Tuesday where we will go over my results and plan out my training run so that I can kick some serious butt at the demi-marathon in Montreal! I’m very excited for that!

  1. Datum = the singular of data. You really don’t get to use that word very often, so I’m chuffed to have a chance to use it. See also: “chuffed”. []
  2. I mean, I know I learned about it in undergrad, but I haven’t the foggiest what a good value would be. []
  3. Another random page on the Internets which uses different age cutoffs and has different values in its categories says that I’m merely “good” (which they consider as the category that is above “above average”. So I’m totally going with the other site! []

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Happy 4th Birthday, Thomas!

Saturday was a lovely day for an Ironman-themed 4th birthday party. My nephew, Thomas, has recently become obsessed with Ironman (which he pronounced “eye-ron man!!!”), so he decided that he wanted an Ironman cake instead of his previously requested Superman cake. My sister had borrowed my aunt’s Superman cake pan, and fortunately, it’s quite easy to cut the cape off of the cake to turn it into basically any other superhero. So there was an Ironman cake, complimented by a giant Ironman balloon, and Avengers table cloth, Avengers Happy Birthday banner1, Avengers plates, etc. Sadly, I didn’t get photos of any of that because although we decorated inside the house, everyone went outside because it was a nice day out, so the whole party ended up taking place in the backyard.

My Aunt Eileen got some great photos though2:

Ironman cake. The icing didn’t turn out quite as red as we would have liked, despite putting in a full container of concentrated red food colouring (!). Thankfully, it was the no-taste red food colouring:

Thomas, taking the candle off the cake:

Thomas, with his entire piece of cake on his fork:

My niece Madeline, and my mom:

The only decent photo of me from the entire party, which I’m posting just to prove I was there. Uncle Harry and his dog Frosty also look good in this photo:

I like this photo because it looks like that glass of wine is Madeline’s. (For the record, it is not.):

My Uncle Harry & Aunt Arlene’s dog, Frosty:

Thomas:

P5170125

Happy 4th birthday, little buddy!

  1. Thomas is very into reading out any letters or numbers he sees, so upon seeing the banner, he proclaimed “H-A-P-P-Y-B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y! That spells Avengers!” []
  2. All photos in the posting are courtesy of Aunt Eileen. Used with permission – All right reserved! []

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YHZ to YUL to, sadly, YYZ instead of YTZ

I wrote the following on the plane flying from Halifax to Montreal on Tuesday, which, as it turns out, was an unnecessary place for me to go.

On a plane, somewhere between Halifax and Montreal. My flight was delayed, so I’m going to miss my connection to Toronto City Centre – though when I got on the plane they told me I’d be able to catch my connection, but then we sat on the plane at our gate for eleventy billion years and as we were taxing down the runway the pilot casually mentioned that we’d land in Montreal at 8:30 pm (instead of 8:00pm, which was when our flight, with its delay, was going to land)… and my flight to Toronto City Centre leaves at 8:30 pm. Rather wishing that I’d just booked a direct Halifax to Toronto Pearson flight and made my sister drive all the way out there to pick me up – I figured flying into City Centre would be much easier for the pickup – didn’t think about the possibility of delayed flights! The flight attendant assures me that the agent will have already booked me on another flight by the time we land (“It’s her job to do that!”), so I’m hoping that’s actually how it goes!

Don’t really have much to report on my time in Halifax beyond what I wrote in my previous posting – Sunday was really my only tourist day – I spent Monday and today (Tuesday) in the conference that I’d gone to Halifax for1. It was a good conference and my presentation was very well-received, which was awesome. Made some good connections too, so very happy that I went there!
Now I’m looking forward to some time visiting the fam. I haven’t been to Toronto since last Halloween, which is more than half a year! As luck would have it, my nephew’s birthday is in May, so I get to be in town for his 4th birthday party. By sheer coincidence, I happened to be in town for my niece’s 4th birthday, six and a half years ago, so it’s nice that I get to do the same for Thomas’. I’ll just tell them that one’s 4th birthday is the extra special aunt visiting birthday!
It actually looks like I’m going to be spoiled with seeing family & friends over the next few months. I got to see Sarah a few weeks ago in Seattle2, and now I’m visiting Toronto, and then my mom and sister are coming to visit me in June3, and then Daniel and I are going to Montreal to run a full and demi-marathon, respectively, and my Mom (and maybe my sister and her family) and Sarah and her family are planning to come out to Montreal to watch (plus I’ll get to see some of my extended family in Montreal, who are also going to come out and cheer us on). So I’m going from not seeing family for more than half a year, to 4 visits in a 6 month period!
Now I’m writing this next part on Thursday at my sister’s place.
So, after landing in Montreal at 8:27 pm, I went directly to the gate agent to see if my other flight had left (I was hoping that maybe they too had been delayed), and she tells me that that flight regularly leaves 15 minutes early because it’s going to Toronto City Centre and the people in the city like don’t like planes flying there late at night, so to they try to get in as early as they can. But we put you on this other flight” and she hands me a boarding pass for a flight to Toronto. “Wait, this doesn’t say ‘Toronto City Centre,'” I say, “It just says ‘Toronto'”. “Oh yeah, the flight you just missed was the last one into City Centre. You have to go to Pearson.” And then my head explodes.
Seriously. If they hadn’t kept telling me that I’d totally my flight – or even if they’d told me that my flight to City Centre was the last flight of the day to go there and there was a chance I’d not make that flight – I would have just asked them to switch me to a direct flight from Halifax to Pearson. Because the *only* reason I’d booked through Montreal was to go to be able to end up in City Centre, which is way more convenient for me to be picked up, given that it’s in the centre of the city, near to where my sister lives, rather than way out in the boonies like Pearson. And had I done that, at least I’ve have gotten into Pearson at a reasonable hour, rather than at 11 pm. So props to my wonderful sister who went all the way out to Pearson to get me4!
At any rate, I’m here now and enjoying spending some time with the fam. Going for dinner with my friends Jen and Tanya tonight, tomorrow we are doing a belated Mother’s Day high tea and then baking an IronMan cake for my nephew’s birthday, which we will celebrate on Saturday!
  1. I did take some notes from the conference, which I quite enjoyed and learned a lot at, on my “professional” blog (Day 1 and Day 2), but those notes are probably of interest to no one other than me. []
  2. Note written after the fact – I totally thought I’d blogged about that, but now as I’m proofreading this posting before I post it, I looked for the posting and discovered that I never did post about it! []
  3. I have to say that the most exciting part of this upcoming visit is that my mom will get to watch me play hockey live, for the first time EVER! I didn’t start playing hockey until I moved to Vancouver and the times she’s visited in the past, I haven’t had games. She’s seen me play on the Internet, as the Longest Game for CF was streamed online, but she’s never been to a game in real life. I’m very excited for that! []
  4. Apparently they are going to be starting train service from Pearson to Union station, which is long overdue. It will cost $30 a trip, which is a heck of a lot more than a Canada Line Skytrain ride from YVR to downtown Vancouver ($9 – or less if you are exempt from the YVR Add Fare), but also a heck of a lot cheaper than a cab ride from Pearson to downtown Toronto. []

By

Halifax

Item #46 (Go to Nova Scotia) has officially been knocked off my list of 101 things to do, as I am currently sitting in a hotel in Halifax writing this posting. I am here for a two day conference, during which I will be presenting some of my research. But since I left last night1 , I arrived here at 11 am2, which gave me a whole afternoon to explore the city.

I spent a long time walking along the boardwalk, which is adorable, enjoying the amazing weather and checking out the little shops. This one was my favourite:

Rum Cake Factory.

Apparently there were a lot of rum runners here back in the day.

Once I reached like what seemed to be the end of the boardwalk (other than a casino), I headed up Citadel Hill, atop of which sits Fort George, a fortified summit that was first established in 1749.

Citadel Hill in Halifax. Source. Creative Commons licensed

I took a guided tour where they tell you about how the site has been fortified four times over its history and going into the intricate ways that it was built to ensure it could be extremely difficult to attack so that it could do its job of protecting Halifax Harbour and the Royal Navy. It turns out, however (spoiler alert!) – Halifax was never once attacked. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Citadel Hill was the deterrent that kept enemy forces from attacking, since they knew it was too well defended to ever defeat.

Also on the tour, we learned that the re-enactors at the site today use actual antique guns from the 1800s – not replicas – and we got to see a demonstration of one of them firing a rifle.

Re-enactor gives a rifle demo at Citadel Hill, Halifax, NS

Re-enactor gives a rifle demo at Citadel Hill, Halifax, NS

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Me, atop the rampant at Citadel Hill

After I left Citadel Hill, I walked back along the waterfront and met up with my colleague for a lovely dinner. We opted to order two meals and trade half, because so many things on the menu at the pub we went to looked good. We had a blackened salmon with tequila lime cream and corn salsa, which was lovely, and a cajun halibut with pineapple, which was to die for! We also tried a local craft beer – Garrison Nut Brown Ale – which was pretty decent.

After dinner, I checked out the hot tub at the hotel, but it was disappointing in its lack of hotness of said tub. And now I’m back in my room, where my luxuriously luxurious hotel bath robe and am starting to nod off at my laptop. Despite it only being 10:30 pm Atlantic – which means it’s 6:30 pm back home – I’m totally exhausted. I blame the fact that I got a minimal amount of sleep last night due to having to sleep on a plane and having to change planes. So I’m going to take advantage of this tiredness to go to bed now, so that I’ll be able to get up in time for tomorrow conference opening at 8 am Atlantic!

  1. My flights were uneventful, other than the three people ahead of me in the security line up, who (1) appeared to have unpacked everything from their copious amount of carry on luggage into several bins and then held up the entire line as they slowly re-packed everything without moving their bins from the conveyer belt, so no other bins could get through the x-ray, (2) forgot they had a butter knife in their backpack, and (3) tried to bring 5 large jars of cranberry jelly in their carryon and then claimed that they didn’t think that jelly counted as a gel. []
  2. with a 2 hour stopover in Toronto and a 4 hour time zone difference, I arrived here 12.5 hours after I left Vancouver []