Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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. []

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I need a story about “power”!

So I’ve had a bit of a change of plans for my holidays and I’m going to be going to Toronto to spend it with my family1. One of the things I’ll be doing in Toronto is going to a Stone Soup supper. You can read the long version of what a Stone Soup supper is here, but the gist of it is that it’s a potluck dinner where people tell stories around a given theme. Unlike Fight Club, if it’s your first time, you don’t have to fight tell a story, but since I have the gift of the gab and am an attention whore, I would like to tell a story if I can come up with one.

Stone Soup

The theme for this particular evening is “power”. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a story that fits. I mean, my go-to story, when I’m in need of telling a good one, is the story of my epic typo. But I’m not sure how I’d fit that to the theme of “power”. The power of a single letter? Seems a bit weak.

Anyhoo, I’ve decided to see if I can crowdsource a story. Does anyone have a good story related to power? Or can you think of any of my stories that you could link to that theme in some way?

Image Credit: Posted by Theresa Thompson on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

Footnotes:

  1. Lest any burglar types be reading this, a friend will be staying in my apartment and my vicious attack cats and attack frogs will bite your face if you try to burgle here []

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Mon 13ème demi-marathon: Pas le résultat que je l’espérais, mais je suppose que si je vous écris ce titre en français il sonnera plus impressionnant

Translation of the title (assuming that Google Translate translated it correctly): My 13th half marathon: not the result I was hoping for, but I figure if I write this title in French it will sound more impressive.

I was hoping to have called this blog posting “Lucky #13” and to be writing about how I’d finally run the elusive sub-2 hour half marathon that I’ve been aiming for, but alas, it was not to be. In fact, I didn’t even beat my time in the BMO Vancouver half marathon in May, as I clocked in at 2:03:07 in yesterday’s race, compared to 2:02:24 in May.

Those 43 extra seconds, however, are likely due to the fact that I had to take a pee break during the race because I was waiting 45 minutes from the time the race started and when I actually crossed the *start* line. The race started on Pont Jacques Cartier (i.e., a really big bridge in Montreal), so the pre-race portapotties were just before you go on the bridge, so we went pee there and then had to walk eleventy billion miles to get to the corrals. I was in corral number 17 (of 26) – they put runners in corrals by speed, so the fast people are in the first corral, then the next fastest and so on. Daniel was in corral number 2, so we went up to our corrals about 10 or so minutes before the 8:30 am start time.

The first thing I noticed in my corral was The Flash, so naturally I asked for a selfie with him:

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Then I spent 45 minutes looking at this:

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Because that’s how long it took for all the runners in the corrals ahead of me to go.

Also, did I mention that it was eleventy billion degrees below zero? And I was dressed in a tank top and shorts because it was going to warm up to 21 degrees, so basically after waiting – did I mention? – FORTY-FIVE minutes!! I was frozen and I had to pee again!

UntitledSo I finally got to start running at 9:15 am, at which point I was so cold that I couldn’t feel my hands or my feet. It was really weird to be running and not be able to feel my feet! I contemplated whether I could run the whole race without stopping to pee, but I realized that I had to pee so badly that if I tried that, I wouldn’t be able to run as fast and I’d probably end up taking a pee break later anyway, so I should just stop at the first opportunity. I saw a bunch of people peeing in bushes in the first few kilometres, but then I saw a sign in some of the bushes that said “Beware – Poison Ivy”, so I decided to keep running until I found portapotties. At about the 4 km mark, I found some and went pee and I’m pretty sure that it took me 43 seconds (give or take).

After that, I felt much better – not only did I no longer have to pee, but I’d warmed up enough that my hands and feet had regained feeling. The next many kilometres I actually felt good – I was running at a good pace and feeling strong. I was using my Runkeeper app to tell me my pace1 every km, but because I’d taken a slight detour to the portapotty and also because GPS is imperfect, the pace it was reporting was a bit off – it would tell me I’d reached a kilometre about 200 m before I hit the kilometre marker. Which meant that the app was thinking that I had run further than I had and thus, was reporting a pace that was faster than my actual pace. Unfortunately, I suck at math in my head at the best of times, so I certainly could not figure out the correction required to know my actual pace while exerting myself on the run! However, since the app was telling me that I was a bit faster than my target pace for most of the race, I figured I was in the ballpark.

It definitely started to feel harder in the last third of the race and I knew from looking at the elevation map prior to the race that I’d be running up some hills toward the end of the race, including a big one in the last ~1km.

My mom, my sister, my niece, and my nephew had driven out to from Toronto to watch the race, as had Sarah & Dave and their kiddies from Ottawa; I knew they were intended to be at about the 19 km mark and I managed to see my family, who were on the far side of the road, but completely missing seeing Sarah & Dave et al, who were on the side of the road closet to where I was running! Seeing friendly faces in the crowd always gives you a boost when you are running!

The big hill, however, had the opposite effect. It was steeper and longer than I had envisioned based on the elevation map, so it definitely slowed me down, but once I caught my breath after cresting the hill, I decided that with just 1 km to go and being somewhere in the ballpark of meeting my goal, I would increase my speed as best as I could without dying and then sprint once I saw the finish line. So I did all that and when I got across the finish line, I stopped my Runkeeper app and looked expectantly at my time, thinking I was reasonably close to my goal. But much to my surprise, it said 2:03! Wtf? I really thought I was close, but it turned out I’d done worse than my run in May! Not by a lot, but still. This made my very grumpy, as all I could think was “I trained for 4 months to get slower. I should have just sat on my couch eating Doritos for the past 4 months!”

On the plus side, while I didn’t achieve my top goal – run a sub-2hr half marathon – I did achieve my consolation goal, which was to run my first half marathon where I don’t do 10 and 1s. So there’s that. And I suspect from the results of my second fitness assessment, that it was my insufficient zone 3 training that prevented me from achieving the elusive sub 2-hr half. I did do my zone 3 training after that assessment, but it was too little, too late. So at least I know for next time2

The way this race was set up, all the half marathoners and the full marathoners started together. Daniel started at 8:30 and, since I was told I should expect to start at 8:45, I expected to be done around 10:45, which would give me enough time to get my medal, my post-race food, and find my family and friends, and make way back to the finish line to watch Daniel complete his race around 11:45. However, since I started at 9:15, I didn’t finish until 11:18, which was not enough time to do those things, so I didn’t even get to see Daniel finish. He set a new personal best of 3:17, putting him 1 minute better than May but 2 minutes shy of his goal of a Boston qualifying time. So both of us were a wee bit disappointed in our results, though everyone else thought we were slightly crazy because our times were good.

After we managed to find our respective families/friends/each other, the next event was the kids run… I mean, the P’tit Marathon. Daniel’s kids and my niece ran this 1 km race – they all did really well and had a great time!

And also on the plus side: shiny new medal3!

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It’s a big 25 because this was the 25th running of the Montreal marathon. And for the record, the green bit in between the 2 and the 5 is not a crocodile, as one of my coworkers thought upon first seeing the medal. It’s Montreal island, on which we ran a bunch of the race!

  1. As I’d lent my running watch to Daniel, because he forgot his at home. []
  2. I haven’t decided when my next half marathon will be. I’m registered to run the Rock’n’Rock Vancouver 10 km next month, and my tentative plan is to maybe do the Chilly Chase in January (assuming that next year’s medal is like this year’s, which was gorgeous and I was so sad i didn’t do that race once I saw the medal!), the Delta triathlon in the spring, run as part of a relay team for the BMO Vancouver marathon, and then maybe do the Scotiabank half? Or maybe some other half marathon that I haven’t done before? I’m not sure, but I am reasonably confident that I can say that I’ll do another half marathon in the near future. And in the far future, actually, as Sarah has us pencilled in for the Ottawa marathon in May 2017! Half marathons, I just can’t quit you. []
  3. The kids got s smaller version of this for their race too! []

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And now we taper

It has been 14 weeks since I started training for the Montreal demi-marathon. BlissThis training has been quite a bit different than my previous training sessions. Differences include:

  • Over those 14 weeks, I’ve run all my runs straight through – no more 10-and-1s for me.
  • I’ve run the majority of my runs in my zone 1 heart rate zone and done a few zone 3 runs – though not nearly as many as I should have. And I’ve done some zone 2 (which is the zone I’ll run my race in) at the end of some of my long runs, but, as with zone 3, not really as much as I should have.
  • I’ve been alternating between two different pairs of running shoes

One thing that has been similar to my previous training session, despite using a different training plan, my weekend long runs have still increased in distance each week, save for a few recovery weeks where the “long” run got shorter. Yesterday, I ran my last really long run of this round of training – 20 km. Which means now the tapering begins!

Tapering is where you decrease the volume of running you are doing to allow your body to recover from the training you’ve done so that you are in tip-top shape on race day. You don’t get to slack off completely – the schedule I’m using calls for a couple of runs this week where you warm up for 10 minutes, run as fast as you can handle for 30 minutes and then cool down for 10 minutes. Next week it goes to 10-20-10. And next weekend my “long” run is 14 km – so less than this week’s 20 km by a fair margin, but still a long run to be sure!

As you can tell by the photo of my foot – yes that is a blister on top of a blister which has a blister inside of it! – my poor feet sure won’t mind running a fewer kilometers for the next two weeks!

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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. []

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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 []