Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Time Thieves Strike Again

I swear the days are getting shorter. And not in the sense that we are well into fall now so there are fewer hours of sunlight every day, but like there is less actual time in a day despite the fact that the clock tells me 24 hours have gone by. Because it seems like every day I get fewer things done than I intended and it totally can’t be because I want to do way more things than is humanely possible nor that I am just too slow at doing all the things. It absolutely must be because time is speeding up. Or time thieves are stealing all the time when I’m not looking because I’m too busy doing all the things. Or trying to, except time thieves thieved all my time.

Part of the problem could be that a number of balls that I had in the air all decided to land at exactly the same time! Said balls include:

  • Peer reviews from a journal article that I submitted in April just came back and some revisions are required.
  • I need to review revised chapters for the update of my textbook and they are coming in fast and furious!
  • I’m teaching a course this semester and I totally thought it wouldn’t be too big of a deal since I taught it last year. But last year was the first time I taught it and it turns out that I had a lot more ideas for revisions than I remembered I did, plus things keep happening in the news that I want to incorporate into my lectures, so that all ends up taking a bunch of time.
  • Two guest lectures that I agreed to give a long time ago both decided to happen around now and apparently guest lectures don’t write themselves.
  • My actual day job, which is always crazy busy, decided to get CRAZY BUSY, with some overnight trips to collect data at various locations.

Now, before you say “Beth, if you are so busy, how do you have time to write this blog posting about how busy you are?” Well, truth be told, I wrote most of this on my phone while Skytraining to work, because Skytraining isn’t really amenable to getting all those other things done, but I can write stuff on my phone. And tonight I’m in a hotel room for one of those overnight work trips and my brain is too fried to do more than copy and paste this into my blog and then write this sentence about how I’m copying and pasting this into my blog and writing this sentence. And even that made me tired. But it’s OK – it’s only another about 8 weeks of this and then I can sleep again. And the way that time is flying these days, that will go buy in a flash!

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Happy 6th Birthday, Watson & Crick

In honour of the sixth birthday of my little fuzzballs, I give you this video of them chasing a laser pointer. I accidentally filmed it in slow motion, which means that the times when they sit and stare at the red dot seem even more absurdly long than in real life, but the parts where they chase and jump are hilarious – I especially love the sound!

The kitties were spoiled today with new toys and some special treats – though I’m not sure any toy can be more appreciated than a box!

IMG_5350

Crick enjoying the new box

Watson in a box

Happy birthday, fuzzballs!

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For The Record

In tangentially related news to yesterday’s posting (in that it’s about hockey), I’ve been meaning to post the following two screenshots from the summer season. First up is the stats for the regular season and would you look at that, my name is right at the top1!

Team Leader for Points! Summer 2017

This is the first time I’ve *ever* been the points leader on my team and, since it very may well be the *only* time that ever happens, I figured I should capture it for posterity. I would also like to add that the number of goals I scored is in error – I actually got three, but my third goal was credited to someone else on the team by mistake (the refs and/or scorekeepers don’t always record these things correctly). Which means I should have been second highest goal scorer as well (and the first highest of our regular players, as the person who got the most goals on our team was a spare who scored all of those goals in the one game they played for us). Unless of course one of the other people who are recorded as having 2 goals also had one of their goals erroneously credited to someone else.

Next up is the stats for the playoffs, and would you look at that, there I am at the top again!Team Leader for Points! Summer Playoffs 2017Unfortunately, there was also a scorekeeping error here, as the goal they credited me with was not my goal – it was someone else’s that they gave to me by mistake. So really, it should be a four-way tie for points leaders for the playoffs, with 4 of us each having 1 point (We only played two playoff games before we got knocked out, so not really a lot of opportunity to score goals, especially given that we were last place and we played both our games against first place.) But I still was one of those people, as I got an assist in the first game, so it’s not technically incorrect for me to be at the top of this list.

Now, what accounts for this spectacular showing on the scoreboard, after what feels like ages of me getting very, very few points? I think that it’s probably the fact that I got a new stick:

But also I have been working out 3 days a week for six months now, so I’m pretty sure that’s not hurting either. At any rate, here’s hoping it continues into this season – I am currently tied for second place (with three other people at 1 point each) for points this season so far (though at only 3 games into the season, it’s probably too early to be bragging about such things. Probably.).

  1. Ignore the fact that there was a very, very low number of goals scored by my team in this 14 game season. That’s not what’s important here, people! []

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Beth and Sidney’s Excellent Adventure

So I have a new hockey team this season – we are called the Penguins! On this team, they have a tradition. The player of the game is awarded a Sidney Crosby stuffy, which they get to keep until the next game. And during that time they must take Sidney on an adventure, which they must photograph and send to the team. Apparently Sidney has gone on a variety of adventures – he’s gone mountain biking, he’s gone to the spa, he’s played dress up, he’s gone for an acupuncture treatment, and so on.

Well, as luck would have it, I was awarded this great honour in my second game on the team, which we played this past Sunday. The honour was bestowed upon me for scoring a goal with just 4 seconds left in the game. The goal was one for the highlight reel – a beautiful wrist shot, top shelf! Or perhaps I just skated up to the goalie, who quite possibly wasn’t expecting anything to actual happen in the last 4 seconds of the game, took a shot right at her which she easily stopped, but it fell between her knees and then when I kept skating towards her hoping to poke at the rebound, she fell over backwards and knocked the puck into her own net. It could have been either of these things, really. I guess we’ll never know! At any rate, my teammate kindly named me player of the game for my never-give-up attitude and making the other team’s goalie, who was quite spectacular all game, look silly. And so it was that I brought this hottie home with me:

Sidney came home from the rink with me!

Watson and Crick smelled him for an unusually long time (They smell pretty much everything I bring into the condo, but usually it’s a few sniffs and they are on their way. But the each spent several minutes smelly every inch of this guy!)

Crick smelling Sidney

Watson smelling Sidney

Now, I only had a few days in which to adventure with Sid, as our next game, when I had to pass him along to the next player of the game, was tonight (Wednesday). So I really only had Monday and Tuesday and I was working those days, plus I am teaching a class at UBC on Tuesday nights this semester. So Sidney ended up having a very nerdy adventure. He came to work with me (I actually had him at the table during our team meeting1 and one of my team members was like “He’s staring at me!!”):

Sidney

Sidney

And then on Tuesday night, he helped me give my lecture on business strategy and marketing:

Sidney gives a guest lecture

Students cut out of the photo to protect privacy! But I wanted a photo with students in it to prove that I didn’t just take him to a lecture hall and pretend to have him in my class!

And finally, we ended our hard day’s work with a fine beer from Steel & Oak:Sidney

  1. which I totally neglected to get a photo of. Epic fail! []

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Things Fall Apart

Apparently all the things got together and decided that they should fall apart this year. You’ve already heard about my car’s clutch actuator and my kobo1 and my toilet and my mouth and my cat’s mouth. In addition to those things, the following other things decided that they too should fall apart:

  • my bathroom counter top. Specifically, the edge of it that came loose:Bathroom counterAnd before I got a chance to buy some Gorilla glue to fix it, I accidentally leaned on it and snapped that piece off. I glued it back on and since it’s on the side, I don’t think anyone will really notice (other than that I’ve now pointed it out to the whole world).
  • my bathroom floor. Specifically, the transition strip between my bathroom floor and my walk-through closet’s floor, which came loose:Transition stripGorilla glue also solved that problem.
  • my dresser. Specifically, the dresser that Kalev gave me way back when he moved to Toronto a million years ago.Kitties exploring my broken dresserOver the last little while, the drawers of the dresser started to slide less smoothly. And then the little plastic slider thingys and all their associated ball bearings started to fall out. Now only the top two drawers can actually be opened and closed without falling off their rails.In fairness to the dresser, it was from Ikea and was moved from Kalev’s place to my place in Vancouver, then to my place in Surrey, then to my first place in New West and then to my current place, which means it’s survived four more moves than can reasonably be expected from a piece of Ikea furniture. I thank it for its service. I’ve ordered a new dresser, one that will go with the rest of my bedroom set and should last me a very long time (locally made, solid wood, costs a stupid amount of money), so in 5-7 weeks I will have a new home for my clothes.
  • my kitchen cupboard door. Specifically the cupboard door that I opened the other day to retrieve something from said cupboard and then it fell completely off its hinges. Given how heavy it was and the fact that I wasn’t prepared to hold up its entire weight with my fingertips on the little handle, it dropped to the counter top beneath the cupboard, where it knocked a wine bottle that landed hard on my foot2 and it knocked over my glass of wine, so my kitchen ended up covered in red wine!
    Cabinet door fell off!

    Every time I go into the kitchen, I instinctively reach up to close the non-existent cupboard door

    Here’s the piece of the hinge on the cupboard frame:

    Broken dresser

    And here’s the piece on the cupboard door:Broken dresser

    It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but they are both a little warped, so I went and bought replacement hinges at Home Depot and I guess fixing it is on the to-do list for this weekend.

In addition to all those things, I also re-sprained my left ankle (stupidly, I was running for a Skytrain and rolled it again), which has made my right hip tight again. However, I’m attempting to learn from my previous mistakes and instead of just thinking it’s OK after a few weeks and running on it, I’ve been going to massage and physio and dutifully stretching out my hip so that it won’t continue on to bursitis again. I asked specifically requested the physio give me some ankle strengthening exercises to do, since no one gave me any the first time I sprained my ankle but clearly my ankle is wimpy and needs to do something about it.

To add injury to injury, last weekend on an easy stroll through Lighthouse Park I rolled my right ankle! It didn’t feel great for a few days, but it seems OK today (*knocks on wood*). Sigh.

Tangentially related: This sign was set up like this in my office and my new hire asked if it was indicative of the quality of the office coffee. For the record, it is.

This sign in my office does, in fact, reflect the quality of the office coffee

  1. Incidentally, I did get a new kobo, but my new kobo needs a name []
  2. Thankfully, my foot broke its fall so that the wine bottle didn’t break! []

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Happy Workiversary To Me!

Yesterday was the my third anniversary of working in my current job! It’s kind of hard to believe that it’s been three years, as I still think of it as my “new” job. And as much as I can sometimes be frustrated with the bureaucracy of working in a big organization (while, several big organizations, actually, as the project I’m working on crosses quite a few), overall I quite like my job. I’m doing work that’s challenging, where I can see that I’m making a difference, and where I have a lot of leeway to figure out how to do my job best – it’s actually got the three keys to motivating someone to be a high performer (autonomy, mastery, and purpose), now that I think about it.

The other thing I really like about my job is the people I get to work with. Case in point: I found this on my desk the other day:

Workiversary card from my team

It’s a card, handmade by one of my team members, that my whole team had signed with some really thoughtful comments to celebrate my workiversary! I’m very lucky to have a team that are not only very good at what they do, but also a super fun group of people to work with!

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Stuff I Learned This Year: Car Part Edition

Much like the Plumbing Edition of Stuff I Learned This Year, this is a lesson I’d have been happy not having learned. It all started on my drive home from work on Friday – I was slowing down for a red light on Stewardson Way and my car jerked (sort of like it would if you were driving a manual transmission car and accidentally put it in the wrong gear) twice, and then as I stopped at the red light, it died. Like, it would not start. And I was on a busy road during rush hour! I put on my four-way flashers and called BCAA to get some emergency roadside assistance. Pretty soon, a couple of women came up to my car and asked if I need some help: “We can push your car around the corner and into this parking lot”. A guy from the business whose parking lot they were referring to, Kirmac Collision1, also came out to help push. Since I drive a Smart car, they were very amused at how light it was to push! I was so thankful that they took the time to stop and help me – no one wants to be the car that they talk about on the traffic report: “A stall on Stewardson Way is blocking the right lane, so there’s only one lane getting through eastbound and everyone just wants to be home already!”

The BCAA tow truck driver showed up in about 20 minutes, which is exactly the time the BCAA dispatcher had estimated (and was more than enough time for me to take over the Pokemon Gym that was there), and he was super nice. Here was where I learned the first thing of this adventure: the location of the battery in my car! Now, lots of things in Smart cars are not where they are in other cars – the engine is in the back and the ignition is in between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, near the gear shifter, for example. Well, it turns out that the battery is located under the foot well on the passenger side! Also there was the tow hook for the car! I’ve never needed to check my battery before – it’s never been a problem. And the only other time I had it towed was when I had a flat tire and that time it was still under warranty, so I had Smart Car roadside assistance still, and they just took care of it. I knew the battery was working, as I could still roll up my windows and the radio was still working, but the tow truck guy tested it, and decided that I would indeed have to get it towed somewhere, because whatever was making the car not start wasn’t something he could diagnosis on the spot.

Now, I’ve never had any trouble with my car before and I’d only ever taken it to the dealership for its regular maintenance (while it was under warranty I had to take it there or else the warranty would be void and once the warranty was up, I just kept going there out of habit/being too lazy to find an alternative). Smart cars are sold at Mercedes dealerships, so you know that there is going to be a bit of a premium on their prices. But I really wasn’t prepared for how bad it would be!

First, when I called the dealership to say I was going to have my car towed there, they said it was no problem even though they would be closed for the night, the driver could just drop off the car and put the keys in an envelope with my name and number on it through the drop spot they have for just such occasions. However, the next day when the service guy contacted me, he was all “We have 68 cars with appointments ahead of you, so we can’t even look at it until Monday and I won’t do anything until you approve the $200 minimum fee to diagnosis it. Plus it is due for a major service appointment (replace spark plugs, belts, oil, etc.) and that costs $970. So with have halted everything until you approve the fees”. My first thought is “why is he making a big deal that other cars have appointments. My car died with no warning. Sorry I didn’t make an appointment for that!” And my second thought was “why would I approve $1000 of maintenance if I don’t know what is wrong the car? What if it isn’t even fixable and they just do all that maintenance on a car I’m going to throw away?” So I said I’d pay the $200 diagnostic fee, but not approve the maintenance before I knew what was wrong with the car.

IMG_4775On Monday, they contacted me with a diagnosis – the clutch actuator motor had died – and an estimate – $900 for the part, $800 for labour (including the $200 diagnosis fee). So in total they wanted $2700 + tax to fix my car, which is 8 years old and only worth about $4000 (if it weren’t broken!). So this made me an unhappy camper because I have a lot of more exciting things that I would want to spend $2700 + tax on, such as anything else. I would rather spend that much on pretty much anything else. Also, they would have to order the part of Toronto and it wouldn’t arrive until Friday, and that’s only if they placed the order that day (i.e., trying to pressure me to make a quick decision!).

So this is the major car part thing that I learned: what the heck is a clutch actuator motor? I knew what a clutch was from my years of driving manual transmission. When you drive manual, you step on a clutch pedal, which allows you to shift gears (or to start the car moving from a stationary position) – basically, stepping on the clutch pedal disconnects the running engine from the turning of the wheels so that you can shift gears; then you release the clutch pedal, which allows the engine to continue turning the wheels with the car in the new gear you’ve just selected2. However, Smart cars don’t have manual transmissions – they have something called a Tiptronic – with this type of transmission, you can shift the gears yourself, but you don’t need to step on a clutch pedal and if you fail to shift correctly, the car will just shift it for you so that the car doesn’t stall. In the photo above, you see that there is Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive, which in an automatic car and you can just drive your Smart as an automatic using those. If you want to do the shifting yourself, when in Drive, you push the stick over to the left (where the + and – are) and then you push up (towards +) and release to shift up or down (towards -) and release to shift down. I did this when I first got my car, but it just wasn’t as satisfying as driving a real manual, so I’ve driven it as an automatic after about the first month of owning. Anyway, the clutch actuator is a part that basically takes the place of the clutch pedal that you would step on to change gears in a manual transmission car. So, the fact that the clutch actuator died and was making my car not work was like insult to injury –  it’s a part that my car has because of a feature I don’t even use!

Anyway, I called a friend of mine who is into cars for advice and he said, “They are likely charging you a Mercedes tax. I know this other shop run by a good guy – they know their stuff and they are straightforward and charge fair prices.” So we contacted them and they gave me an estimate for all the same work (replace the clutch actuator and do the full maintenance service): $1200 + tax! So basically Mercedes was trying to fleece me out of $1500! So I called them back and said I would not be having them do anything more with my car – I would pay their $200 diagnosis fee and then have a tow truck come to take it away. He said it would take some time to put my car back together and he’d call me when it was ready. And then he called me back shortly after, said he’d talked to his manager, and since I’ve been such a good customer, they wanted to know what I was planning to do with the car3. I said that I was taking it somewhere else to get it fixed, where they are charging me a reasonable price and where they can get the part tomorrow, not Friday. He asked what the other place was going to charge me and when I told him, the guy says that because I’ve such a good customer4, they can match the price for replacing the clutch actuator ($1000 for parts & labour, instead of $1700), but he didn’t believe that the quote of $200 for maintenance (vs. Mercedes charging $970) could be right. “Are you sure it’s a full maintenance, with spark plugs and belts and everything? Are you sure it’s not just an oil change?” And I was sure, because I’d sent the shop the list of what was included in the list of things for maintenance. But he was all “nope, we can’t drop the price on that”5. And then he also dropped in that “We’ve found the part locally, so we can have it by today instead of 5 days from now”. At this point, I was just pissed off, and I said, “Well, if you can drop the price of replacing the clutch actuator almost in half, just like that, now I just feel like you were trying to fleece me! And that’s a very interesting coincidence that all of a sudden you found the part locally, once I told you that I taking it to another shop! I’m taking my car – please tell me when you have it reassembled so I can tell my tow truck driver it’s ready.”6

So that was Monday. They didn’t have my car reassembled until the next morning, but I got a tow truck to take it to Deckers Auto in Burnaby, who had the car fixed and all the maintenance done in about 24 hours, and the cost was right on what they’d estimated! And to put a cherry on top, when I got there, the guy was super friendly and helpful, he showed me the parts that had been replaced and explained what was wrong with them, and basically treated me like I was a person capable of understanding information about cars (which many mechanics do not do when they speak to women.). He also told me that my car is in great shape, so I shouldn’t have to worry about it for quite some time! I was just so pleased with their service and I will be definitely going back to them for all my maintenance from now on. If you are ever looking for a great auto shop, I highly recommend them!

Reflecting back, I have a lot of people to thank for helping me out in this situation:

  • the two lovely women who stopped to help me out when I was stalled in traffic, along with the lovely gentleman from Kirmac who helped them push my car. Also, the other nice guy from Kirmac who came out while I was waiting for my tow truck to make sure I was OK
  • the friendly and professional BCAA driver who came for emergency roadside assistance
  • my friend Tig who gave me a ride to our hockey game that night!
  • my friend Randy who recommended Deckers Auto and who talked with me through my options
  • the amazing mechanics at Deckers Auto who treated me fairly and professionally and who charged me a fair price for the work they did
  • my Dad, for teaching me about how cars work
  • my sister, for pointing out that my Dad’s legacy lives on through our tendency to call people out on their bullshit

Here’s a video of how a manual transmission works, in case you are interested:

Image Credits:

  • Cross section of Smart car showing engine location is from Wikimedia Commons shared with a Creative Commons license.
  • Gear shifter in my Smart car photo was taken by me!

Footnotes:

  1. Those of you from New West may be noting that Kirmac just so happens to be right next to New West’s craft brewery, Steel & Oak. And if I didn’t have a hockey game to play later that evening, I definitely would have meandered into S&O’s tasting room for a pint after the tow truck took my car away! []
  2. Here’s a simple explanation, if you are interested: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/clutch.htm []
  3. At this point, I was assuming he was going to try to sell me a Merc. []
  4. Interesting that they didn’t seem to care that I’d been such a good customer until I was threatening to leave! []
  5. Of course, he couldn’t drop the price on that because then if I came back for my next service appointment, they wouldn’t be able to charge me the hundreds of extra dollars anymore! []
  6. I was telling my sister this story and said that I wished Dad was here to help me deal with this car stuff – he is the one who taught me all the things I know about cars – and she said “It seems like he is. What you said to them was such a Dad thing to say!” I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! []

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Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Politics edition

I started this posting ages ago, but haven’t gotten around to finishing it until now. So it’s pretty old news at this point, but I am posting it as part of my chronicling of the stuff I’m learning this year. #YouHeardItHereLast

So eighty billion years ago, we had a provincial election in BC. Politics in BC tend to be weird, and I think we may have outdone ourselves on the weirdness front this time. There are a number of things that I already knew about how our government worked, but the weird situation provided the opportunity for me to learn a few new things!

The BC provincial legislature has a total of 87 seats, which means in order to have a majority, a party needs to win 44 of those seats. On election night, the results ended up being:

  • 43 BC “Liberals”1
  • 41 BC NDP
  • 3 Green Party

BC LegislatureThis meant that no one had a majority and this situation is referred to as a “hung legislature” (this term is the first (#1) thing I learned). But there was an additional weird thing at play – after the votes were counted on election night, there were several very close ridings, including one where the BC NDP won the riding by only 9 votes! But any absentee ballots and ballots cast in the advanced polls are not counted on election night, and with thousands of those ballots outstanding, it was entirely possible that the numbers of ridings could change. If that riding with a 9-vote margin were to end up going to the BC Liberals after the final count, they would have the 44 seats needed for a majority. But if other close ridings changed, it was theoretically possible that the NDP could gain a few seats and end up with a majority (although the odds of that were slim, as the other close ridings weren’t nearly as close as 9 votes). To add even more weirdness, the riding with the 9-vote margin includes a military base (and any deployed personnel would have had to have cast absentee ballots) and the BC “Liberal” candidate in that riding was the former boss of that military base. As one TV commentator put it on election night, the election could end up being decided by whether or not this group of people liked their boss.

IMG_4772At any rate, we then had to wait two weeks for the absentee ballots were counted. This leads to the second (#2) thing that I learned – why it takes so long to count these ballots! When I heard it would take two weeks, I thought, “It’s only ~180,000 ballots. Get a team of volunteers and you could count those up in a day!” But what I didn’t know, and only later learned, was that every advanced poll and absentee ballot has to be sent to its riding (e.g., if you live in Vancouver, but happened to be miles away in another town during the election and voted in a poll there, your ballot would have to be sent to your riding in Vancouver!), where it is counted and then checked manually against the records to make sure that no one voted twice. Because you could imagine a situation where someone votes in by absentee ballot and then shows up at their own polling station on election day and votes again. Hence the manually checking.

After all the ballots were counted – and in some ridings, recounted – the results stayed the same with a hung legislature. What happens in this situation – and this is something that I already knew – is that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) (who represents the Queen of England, who is the head of state in Canada) asks the leader of the party with the most seats if they will be able to maintain the confidence of the house – i.e., will they be able to get enough votes to pass legislation, including budgets, and win votes of non-confidence (where someone in the legislature basically says “I don’t have confidence in this government, who is with me??” and then the legislature votes and if there are a majority of votes in favour of “no confidence”, the government falls. If that leader feels they can get enough votes from the other party/ies, the can say “Yes I can!” and then they can try to govern and thus test out that theory. If they don’t think they can get the other side to vote with them, they can say “No, I can’t” and basically resign, which can either end up as the LG asking another party leader if they can govern or the calling of an election. So the LG asked the leader of the BC “Liberals”, Christy Clark, if she will be able to maintain the confidence of the house. During the time where all the votes were being counted, both the BC “Liberals” and the BC NDP were negotiating with the BC Green Party to see if they could strike a deal to get their support. If the BC “Liberals” could get the Greens to support them, they would have the majority of votes (43 + 3 = 46) and if the BC NDP could get the Greens’ support, they would have the majority of votes (41 + 3 = 44). After negotiating with both sides, the Green Party agreed to a “confidence and supply agreement” with the BC NDP. What is a “confidence and supply agreement” you ask? That is what I asked as well, and it is thing #3 that I learned – a “confidence and supply agreement” is where a party (or individuals) strike an agreement with a governing party (or, in this case, a party that will become government) to vote in the government’s favour on votes of non-confidence and on budgets, ensuring that the government will be able to continuing governing. This other party (or individuals), don’t become a part of the governing party, nor are they in a coalition with the government. They merely agree to vote to keep the governing party in power. In exchange for this agreement, the governing power agrees to stuff that the other party (or individuals) want. So by entering into this agreement, the Green Party effectively demonstrated that the BC “Liberals” would not have the confidence of the house and the BC NDP did. So when the LG asked the leader of the BC “Liberals” if she could govern, she should have said “no” since she knew she would lose the vote 44-432 (and she herself admitted she knew she would lose a vote of non-confidence), but instead she said “yes”, waited a while before she called the legislature into session, and then called the legislature where she lost the vote of non-confidence. She then had to go to the LG’s house to say “My party does not have the confidence of the house so I can’t govern”. She is then supposed to make a recommendation – either that the LG ask the party with the next most seats (i.e., the BC NDP) if they can govern or to call a new election. She went to the LG’s house insisting that she would not make any recommendation because she was not going to ask for a new election and that the LG should decide for herself. The LG told her she *had* to make a recommendation so she recommended a new election, but the LG asked the BC NDP if they could govern and they said “yes” and now we have a BC NDP Premier. Of course, he has a slim one seat majority of votes, but another wrinkle to the whole situation is that one of the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) has to be a speaker of the house and thus doesn’t vote unless as a tie breaker  (thing #4 that I learned – I didn’t realize that the speaker of the house doesn’t vote3 – I feel like I’d be upset if I voted for an MLA to represent me and then they didn’t get to vote on stuff!) and traditionally when they do the tie breaking vote, they vote to continue debate up until the last vote, at which time they vote to “keep the status quo” (or vote against proposed new legislation). So effectively you’ve got a government that has 43 votes in favour and 43 votes against. This, of course, assumes that no one is sick, away, has to resign due to a scandal, chooses to resign to run in an election in a different level of government, or any of a myriad of other possible reasons for being absent. Since the new NDP government has been sworn in, they’ve been busy working on a number of things, but the legislature won’t sit until the fall. Should be interesting times!

Image Credit: Photo of the BC Legislature building was posted by David Gasson on Flickr with a Creative Commons license. The “voting place” sign photo is my own.

  1. For the uninitiated, the “BC Liberal” party has nothing to do with the federal Liberal party, nor are they liberal. They are actually conservative. There is a BC Conservative party, but they run few candidates and don’t win anything. []
  2. Assuming all members of the legislature were present to vote []
  3. I feel like this is something that I should have known. []

By

Road Trip

Scott and I went on a road trip1. He had met my mom and sister when they were here in May and now it was my turn to meet his family. Our two main destinations were Red Deer, where his mom lives, and Kelowna, where his dad lives.

On the way there, we went through Jasper. I’ve never been to Jasper before, but I remember my Aunt Wendy going there when I was little and bringing me back a silver dollar. I’d also heard that it’s absolutely gorgeous there and I was not disappointed!

Jasper, AB

Jasper, AB

Jasper, AB=Jasper, AB

To make it even better, we had free entry thanks to the Parks Canada free-entry-to-all-national-parks-in-celebration-of-Canada-150 pass. While in Jasper we enjoyed:

  • the Miette Hot Springs, where there had both hot springs pools and cold pools, the latter of which gave me flashbacks to the torture of the physiotherapy cold tub
  • the Columbia icefieldJasper, AB
    Jasper, AB
  • Tangle Creek
    Jasper, AB
  • Various wildlife, although not as much as I expected to see and no bears, which I wanted to see, but only from a distance and from inside the car. Because I don’t have a death wish. Bears are scary!
  • Goats in Jasper, AB
    Jasper, AB

After Jasper we were off to Red Deer to visit Scott’s mom and spend some time on the family farm. At the farm I:

  • rode a horse named Cookie Monster and got bitten but eleventy billion mosquitoes.

    The Cookie Monster - I got to ride him!

    Cookie Monster!

  • met a lot of dogs. Every time I turned around, there was another dog! There was Rosie and Dudley and Puddles and Dakota and Flydog and Archie.
    Rosie

    Rosie

    Dudley

    Dudley

  • met Sylvester the cat, who is heard a lot about from Scott and who looks just like Sylvester from Bugs Bunny. He’s a farm cat through and through – I watched him eat a mouse2 – but he’s also a snuggly little guy who will curl up with you at bed time. He’d been in a bit of a scrap with another farm cat at a few days earlier and had a big gash just above one eye, so I was worried about him, but he’s all better now after some antibiotic ointment that Scott’s mom got from the vet. And I’m just realizing I didn’t get any photos of Sylvester. #fail
  • met three little kittens who recently arrived at the farm: Milkshake, Stripey Cat, and the Orange One. They were pretty freaking adorable!
    Milkshake the kitten at the farm

    Milkshake

    Stripey Cat the kitten at the farm

    Stripey Cat

    Orange kitten at the Farm

    The Orange One

  • met 2 other cats, but only from a distance because, while adorable, they were, let’s say very protective of their territory: Halo, and the aptly named Killer.
  • saw a bunch of cows. It is a cattle farm, after all. Most of the cows were out at pasture, but there were two calves that didn’t have moms to be out at pasture with – one was orphaned and the other was rejected by its mom – so they were hanging out in a pen with a dairy cow who was brought in to feed them. Sort of like a wet nurse for cows. The dairy cow had a tongue that was about 2 ft long and tried to eat my arm.

I really think my niece and nephew would like the farm. And my dad would have liked it too!

While in Alberta, we also made a trip to Eau Claire Distillery ((Here’s my usual disclaimer: no one paid me to talk about any of the business I talk about in this posting. I kind of wish they did, because most of the business I talk about in this posting make booze!)), the first craft distillery in Alberta, which opened in 2004. Scott had been there back when they first open for a fundraising event and wanted to show it to me. They make primarily barley-based booze, although they do have one vodka made from prickly pear cactus. They also hand harvest all the barley, which seems like a particularly crazy way to get your barley.

Eau Claire Distillery, Turner Valley, AB

Drinks at Eau Claire Distillery, Turner Valley, AB

Scott had a Moscow mule and I had (if I recall correctly) an apricot whiskey sour.

Then we went into Calgary, which you may recall is my least favourite place that I’ve ever been. In Calgary, police cars are all Ford F-150s and everyone drives Lamborghinis. True story.

This is how they do police cars in Calgary

Row of expensive cars - apparently this was a show & shine in Calgary

We did go to Prince’s Island Park and it was nice and we ate at the Palomino Smokehouse and it was good. So I may have to revise my stance from “I hate everything about Calgary” to “I hate everything about Calgary except Prince’s Island Park and Palomino Smokehouse”.

After a few days of Red Deer, which included some family dinners with Scott’s mom and her boyfriend, and meeting Scott’s grandma3 we hit the road again, this time traveling through Banff on our way to visit Scott’s dad in Kelowna. We made a stop in Revelstoke to visit Monashee Spirits Distilling. Monashee opened about 4 months ago and makes some of the best craft booze around! Josh gave us a tour of where all the magic happens and we got to sample his wares. Incidentally, I have a bottle of Big Mountain Creamer and, since all of Monashee’s products are certified organic and don’t have preservatives, and the Big Mountain Creamer has, understandably, cream in it, this bottle has an expiry date – anyone who wants to come help me drink it should let me know!

While in Revelstoke, we also decided to try out the Pipe Mountain Coaster, a single person roller coaster down the mountain! It was a bit pricy, but pretty freaking fun!Scott on the Pipe Coaster in Revelstoke, BC

Then it was off the Okanagan! While there we checked out, in no particular order:

Old Order Distillery

    • The People’s Crafthouse Soda Company – these guys make fantastic craft sodas: root beer, cream soda, tonic, ginger ale, elderflower, and they even have one called “seasonal fruit” that is made with whatever fruit happens to be in season. When we were there it was strawberry-cherry (the end of the strawberry season and the start of cherry season) and they said that the next week it would be just cherries, then later it would be blueberry, blackberry, peaches, etc. I just looked at their website and they currently have pear-ginger! We did a tasting of their sodas and then talked to them for nearly an hour about how they started their business and about their experience on the Dragon’s Den. They were super nice people and if you ever happen to be in Penticton, I highly recommend you check them out!
    • Bad Tattoo Brewing
    • The Vibrant Vine winery – I was there last year, as the half marathon I ran in Kelowna started in their vineyard (and then I went back later to actually check out the winery) and I really wanted to show it to Scott. All of their packaging and the art in the winery is 3D and while you might think that gimmicky labels may signify poor quality wine, but you’d be wrong. Their wine is outstanding!
    • House of Rose – At the Canada Day festivities at the Kelowna waterfront, we’d gotten coupons for the “Fab 5” wineries – a group of wineries, including The Vibrant Vine, who co-market to try to get people to visit these wineries that are all in the same area (though they are quick to tell you that it’s just a marketing arrangement – they are all independent wineries). So we decided to check out some of the others, which we hadn’t heard of before. One of them was the House of Rose and while the grounds were pretty (I kind of felt like I was at House Tyrell with the rose theme), sadly their wines just weren’t very good.

The House of Rose Winery, Kelowna, BC

  • Camelot Vineyards – Like House of Rose, Camelot sticks to its theme, with coats of armour and a sword stuck in a stone decorating the place, but I didn’t like their wines. After this, we decided to cut our losses on the “Fab 5” wineries, electing not to go to the remaining two.
    Camelot Winery, KelownaCamelot Winery, Kelowna
  • Summerhill Pyramid Winery – This winery has a pyramid that they apparently store their wine in for some reason. Their sparkling wine is quite nice.
    Scott and I at Summerhill Pyramid WIneryPlus they have what looks like a weirwood tree.Summerhill Pyramid WInery
  • Grizzli Winery – I discovered Grizzli Winery last year when I was in Kelowna – just saw it as we were driving by and went in on a whim and I really, really like their wines. So Scott and I went there so that he could check it out and also so I could see what was new since I was there last year, shortly after they opened. They had white wines this time (which they didn’t last year) and I liked them a lot!

When we weren’t tasting all the beverages, we spent some time walking the boardwalk in Kelowna and having family breakfasts and dinners with Scott’s dad and his girlfriend. And then before we knew it, our vacation was over! Will definitely have to go back – feels like we just scratched the surface of all the things we could do!

  1. Like a month ago, but I’m only getting around to blogging about it now. Because there are too many exciting things going on this summer and I haven’t had time to sit down and write! []
  2. I realized that I’d never seen a cat eat a mouse before! We saw that Sylvester was sitting in the grass so we went over to see him and saw that he had a half eaten mouse corpse in front of him and one of the mouse legs, which he was slowly devouring, in his mouth. After eating the leg he started pulling the guts out to eat! []
  3. Who reminded me a lot of my Granny Snow. Incidentally, Scott’s grandma told her hair stylist that she approved of me (one of the times we went to visit her she was in the salon) and then Scott learned that women always tell their hair stylist everything! []

By

I’m a Frankestein’s Monster

So I got a gum graft this morning. I’ve been putting it off since forever ago when my dentist said my gum line was receding on the lower left side of my mouth on a tooth near the back. Basically, the root of the tooth was slowly being exposed and ultimately that would just lead to the root rotting and no one wants that. I looked into an alternative procedure, but then it turned out that the alternative procedure is pretty much what my periodontist does but using cadaver tissue instead of your own tissue (which is an option with my perio1 as well), but some guy gave it a fancy name and patented it. So anyway, after looking into that and deciding it wasn’t worth it, I put off booking the actual surgery for ages because (a) it didn’t sound that fun and (b) my insurance doesn’t cover the procedure (apparently Pacific Blue Cross is the only insurance that doesn’t cover it – lucky me) and I did not like the idea of spending $1400 on this rather than any number of other $1400 purchases I would have preferred to make. What finally got me to do it, though, was the realization that since I had to spend a bunch of money out of pocket for physio on my hip in the fall (as my physio allotment of my insurance got used up pretty quick), if I did the gum graft within 12 months of the physio, I could lump the receipts together and they will probably add up to a high enough amount that I can claim them on my taxes. And so I found myself in the periodontist’s chair this morning.

Not thrilled to be getting a gum graft

As you can see, I’m not thrilled to be sitting in this chair

The procedure was fairly quick and pretty much painless other than the needle to do the freezing2. They also put a blood pressure cuff on me, which inflated every 15 minutes during the pressure just to make sure it wasn’t going crazy – and I hate blood pressure cuffs! They make me feel all claustrophobic and when I can start to feel my blood pumping, I get queasy3. Ugh! Once everything was frozen, I could only feel a bit of pressure here and there, and it was weird to see someone sewing stitches in my mouth! Basically, they cut out a bit of tissue from the roof of your mouth, sew that incision up, then open up a little pocket in the receding gum and stuff the tissue inside there, and then sew that up. And that’s it. She did also put a “bandage” on the roof of my mouth to protect that cut – it feels like a little pack of putty. It sort of protects that cut – I imagine without it, I’d just be running my tongue on those stitches, like you do when you burn the roof of your mouth! Before the surgery, they gave me some Advil and Tylenol and then said to take an Advil every 2 hours today4, and then just as needed for any pain tomorrow. My jaw is a bit achy, but that doesn’t bug me too much. I was worried there would be sharp pain in the roof of my mouth, as I’ve heard from other people who have had gum grafts, but so far, knock on wood, I’m OK. I can deal with just achy (so I’m hoping it stays at just that!). The periodontist also said I might have a bruise on my cheek, but one hasn’t developed yet. I guess we’ll see how I look in the morning.

Today I had to take it easy and for the next week or so I have to eat only on the right side of my mouth. I can brush my teeth except for the ones where the graft was, and I have to swish around a special rinse after that to keep the wounded parts clean. The perio even said that I can play my hockey game tomorrow night5, so I should probably get a good night’s sleep!

  1. And, in fact, my friend Rick is getting a gum graft done using cadaver tissue, so he is going to be a real Frankenstein’s monster. Or perhaps a chimera. I haven’t been to periodontal school, so I’m not sure which of those is technically correct, though I’m sure it must be one of them. []
  2. The only painful part was paying the bill! []
  3. On the plus side, my blood pressure was good – about 109/60, which is a bit high for me (I’m usually around 90/60), but way below the normal of 120/80 and also I was having surgery! []
  4. Which I kept forgetting to do, so it’s been more like every 3-4 hrs. []
  5. I thought she would say not to, as the written material I got before the surgery said I shouldn’t engage in any physical activity for 48 hours, but she said that the written material is very conservative – she said that they don’t want you to raise your blood pressure in the first 12-24 hours while the initial healing is taking place, but after that I’m fine to play hockey!)

    Sadly, I didn’t get any gruesome photos like I did that time I got crowns and veneers done, because there really wasn’t anything gruesome to see. I kind of wish I could see what the stitches look like, but the periodontist said not to try to pull at my lip to look at what’s going on with the wound (like many people do) as it will only disrupt the site and delay healing/screw up the graft and after $1400, I’m not risking that, no matter how many cool looking stitches I’m missing out on seeing.

    Anyhoo, I suppose I should take my last Advil for the day and hit the hay. Tomorrow is my first day back at work after two weeks of holidays ((Which I’ll blog about soon! []