Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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.

Untitled

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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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. []

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At the Airport

Everyone I’ve interacted with so far today – my taxi driver, the security guy at the luggage screening, the security guys who randomly selected me for the thing where they swab your luggage for chemical tests – has been super duper friendly. I feel like maybe they are trying to get me ready for Newfoundland where, I am lead to believe, everyone is super duper friendly.

My strata has decided to power wash and paint all the balconies in my building, which meant that I had to take everything off my balcony. So I currently have my BBQ and all my patio furniture in my living room and my herb garden in my bathtub, as it’s the only place the cats can’t get it (as my bathtub has a sliding door on it rather than a shower curtain). Watson really, really wants to eat my plants! I suppose the timing of this isn’t too bad, as by the time I get back it should be all done, as opposed to having to spend a week living with my BBQ, etc. in my living room1.

I already miss my cats!

If any criminals are reading this, I have a cat sitter, so don’t even think of breaking into my place while I’m away. My cat sitter is big and scary and could totally kick your butt.

  1. The cats, on the other hand, are loving having all this crap in the living room. Probably because it smells like pigeon! []

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One Week Today….

… I’ll be co-presenting a workshop in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador with my sister! I am very excited about this for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) and in no particular order:

  • the content we are presenting on is very cool and I’m excited to share it with colleagues
  • the conference that we are presenting at is a good one – I always learn a lot, meet great people, and have a lot of fun
  • I get to hang out with my sister
  • Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province I’ve never been to, so when I go there I will have collected the entire set of provinces in my travel history

The one thing I’m not excited about is the weather forecast. St. John’s is going to be cold while we are there:

St. John's forecast

And in the meantime, I’ll be missing out on summer weather in Vancouver:

Vancouver forecast

I’ll have to make sure to pack some warm sweaters and my coat!

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Whistler

So I went skiing up at Whistler on Saturday. It’s pretty freaking awesome to live somewhere where you can get up in the morning and in less than 2 hours be on the slopes of some of the best skiing in the world. You can spend the entire day skiing and still get home in time for dinner! This is something that I really should take advantage of more often!

The conditions were decidedly spring skiing conditions – the temperature in the village got up to a high of 19 degrees C and even up at the peak it was above 0. It made for a variety of conditions, depending on if the snow was in the sun or the shade, including rather icy for the first couple of runs (as the peak did hit 0 degrees overnight), somewhat soft in some places/at different times, and downright sticky in yet other places.

We spent the morning on Blackcomb and the afternoon on Whistler, during which time we made our way over to the Flute Bowl and I went down my first ever black diamond at Whistler! I say “went down” as opposed to “skied” because, while I skied most of it, there were parts that I fell down and after my second fall, where I was having trouble even getting back up on the steep part of the slope that I was on, I sort of slid down sideways. I’d fallen twice because my legs were pretty fatigued by this point in the day, what with me being a super sloth these past several months1, and the snow was rather heavy, making it difficult for me to get my back leg to follow my front leg when I was turning, which I needed to do a lot to slow myself down because it was really steep! I could manage it on my strong side, but my weak leg just couldn’t do it, and it tripped me up. After the second fall, once I had retrieved my one ski and two poles that I’d lost in the fall (though thankfully all within reaching distance), I was having difficulty even standing up on the steep slope and as I tried, I started sliding down. After a couple of attempts, I thought “Fuck it” and just let myself slide down until I wasn’t on such a steep slope anymore and could then get up and ski the rest of the way. Not the most graceful move and somewhat embarrassing, but it worked.

Also, during the whole time we were in that bowl2, there was not a single other skier or snowboarder there. I mean, the mountains weren’t super busy because it’s spring and the weather in Vancouver was fabulous, so most people have moved on to spring activities rather than hitting the slopes3, but there were lots of other people on all the other slopes we went on, so it was a bit surprising that no one else was there – anyone who is a halfway decent skier/boarder and who is in better shape than me would have had an awesome time there. But it was actually pretty cool to feel like we had an entire mountain to ourselves!

After that, I was pretty much too tired to handle anymore particularly strenuous runs, so we made our way back to the Peak-to-Peak gondola via a relatively easy route and then down Blackcomb, which took us to the end of the day.

On the way home I realized I forgot to take any pictures other than this one, of our après-ski beers4. I had an Uncommon Lager from Whistler Brewing – it seemed appropriate.

Apres ski

Goals for next year:

  • ski more than once – maybe even like 3 or 5 times
  • take more photos
  1. And not having skied in over a year. But mostly due to the slothiness. []
  2. Which was a long time, given my falling and attempting to get back up was not a quick thing. []
  3. In fact, when we got back to Vancouver there were still tonnes of people on the beaches! []
  4. And which I only thought to take because I was checking in on my beer app. []

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Long weekend report

The long weekend festivities started on Thursday with the world’s easiest Easter egg hunt at my office:

World's Easiest Easter Egg Hunt At My Office

World's easiest Easter egg hunt

The office Easter bunnies left lots of treats for everyone and they certainly didn’t make them hard to find!

Then on Friday I headed over to Salt Spring Island. It was my first time going to any of the Gulf Islands and it did not disappoint. Here are just a few of the lovely views I saw:

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

There was also time for a tasting at the Salt Spring Island Brewery:

Salt Spring Island Brewery

And then on the ferry ride home there was a double rainbow!

Double rainbow as seen from the Victoria to Vancouver ferry

I wasn’t the only one taking photos of it:
People taking photos of the double rainbox

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The Penultimate Night of the Year in Our Nation’s Capital

Spent the day driving to Ottawa with my family, as we are going to a friend’s wedding tomorrow night. The invitation says it’s a fancy-schmancy attire sort of occasion, so I’ve got a fancy dress, impractically tall shoes, and even some full length gloves for the occasion. My friends Sarah and Dave and their crew will also be in attendance, so it will be nice to ring in the new year with them. My niece baked the wedding cakes and I hear there’s a late night pierogie bar! Rock on!

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The saga of my Irish marble ring

When I was in Ireland, I bought myself a Connemara marble ring, which I love and wear most days. One day back in August1, I looked down at my ring and noticed that a chunk of the marble was missing:

My marble ring, with a missing chunk

I knew I’d bought it at the Connemara Marble store that we’d stopped at on our bus tour, so I Googled “Connemara Marble” and sent an email to the email address I’d found on connemaramarble.com. And then I received a terse email saying that it wasn’t one of their rings and I should contact the store where I bought the ring. Which confused me, because I was *sure* I’d bought the ring at a store called “Connemara Marble” and so I was trying to email the store where I’d bought it! Turns out that connemaramarble.com is actually a website for a company that’s not called Connemara Marble at all (but they sell some stuff made with Connemara marble).

After some detective work, including searching through the photos we’d all taken, my Mom was able to find the place I bought it, which is called the “Connemara Marble Visitor Centre” and has the URL http://connemaramarble.ie/. So I emailed those guys and they were super friendly and said “Mail it to us and we’ll fix it for free and send it right back to you!”  And they did:

My Irish marble ringThanks Connemara Marble Visitor Centre!

  1. Holy cow, I can’t believe that was all the way back in August! []

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At the Airport

So here I am at YVR, waiting for my flight to Toronto. It isn’t what I was expecting to be doing this Christmas, but, to use a phrase that I hate, it is what it is1.

There will be Christmas baking and my niece and nephew, and wine. These things are good.

Oh, looks like my flight will be boarding soon, so see y’all on the flip side.

  1. I mean, seriously, that phrase annoys the hell out of me. Of course it is what it is… it can’t be what it isn’t. And it’s usually used when someone is describing a situation that is shitty and someone will reply “It is what it is” as if that negates the fact that what it is is shitty. It can be both of those things. []