Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Seattle Hates Map Books

Yesterday was the first day of my weeklong vacation, which I decided to take before school starts up and things start to get crazy. I decided to spend the day taking a road trip down to Seattle with Kalev.  It was a relaxed trip with no real goals in mind – we weren’t going there to shop1 or to any particular event or anything. We did, however, want to find a map.  You see, here in BC, we’d just use Google Maps on our iPhones. But once you cross over the border, roaming fees kick in and since we’d be charged about $1 billion per byte, we both turned our phones off to avoid ending up with cell phone bills that would be bigger than my student loan debt. I have a map book containing maps of the whole Lower Mainland that I used before I got my iPhone and I wanted to get something similar for the Seattle area.  However, we would soon discover that Washington state hates maps of any kind, but especially map books.  Despite going to Walgreen’s, Safeway, and a few gas stations, we were never able to find even a single map book, and the few old school folding maps they did have were either maps of the whole state (which didn’t have enough detail of the cities for our purposes) or individual city maps (which didn’t contain maps of enough places to be worth our while). In the end, we went mapless and managed to find our way to where we wanted to be, though we did stand outside a shop and steal their wifi to check out a map at one point:

IMG_1047 Kalev, standing outside a shop, stealing some wifi.

In addition to the lack of proper maps, the purchasing of gas proved challenging. Now, we all know that the US has super cheap gas compared to Canada (we are talking 90 cents per litre of premium gas in Washington state vs. $1.30 per litre in Vancouver). So I made sure that I didn’t fill up before we left Canada. But when we stopped in Everett to fill up, I noticed this odd sign on the pump:


Enter my “zip” code to get gas, eh? I didn’t actually read the sign at first, so I thought the pump was asking for a zip code just as one of those things where they collect zip codes so they can survey where their customers have come from. So I did what I always do when I am required to enter a zip code (and a Canadian postal code isn’t accepted) – I entered “90210.” Unfortunately, the entering of the zip code is actually to check if you are using a stolen credit card (which, if I’d read the sign, I would have known) and s0 your zip code has to match your credit card billing information. Which, of course, means that Canadians can’t use their credit cards at the pump (at least not at the Safeway gas stations). But really, how many Canadians can they possible get in a border state, right? </sarcasm>

Now, around here if the pay-at-the-pump isn’t working (or you are out in small towns in the Fraser Valley where their pumps are so old they don’t have pay-at-the-pump options), you just give your credit card to the cashier, pay your gas, and then go inside and pay. Not here though. Instead, you have to tell them a dollar amount to charge to your card, they charge it, then you pump your gas, and then they refund the difference between the first transaction and how much gas you actually took. So efficient!  Also, they didn’t require my postal code or any other sort of verification that I was the owner of that credit card when I went inside to pay, so that’s kind of a loophole in their security system.

I had *no idea* how much a fill up would cost because they list their prices in $ per gallon and I don’t even know what a gallon is2! So I just said, “Put $30 on it” as that’s roughly how much a tank costs me in Vancouver, so I knew it would be more than enough to cover the cost of a tank there.  In the end, it cost ~$18.

Also photoworthy was the parking payment stub that you have to tape to the window when you pay for street parking in Seattle:

Day 70

Apparently their meter-maids can’t be bothered to look on your dashboard like meter-maids everywhere else.  Your parking stub prints out on a sticker, but the sticker isn’t the parking stub part, it’s the backing of the  parking stub, which you use like a piece of tape to stick the stub to your side window. Weird!

Other than inefficient gas purchasing and map scarcity and weird parking stubs, though, the trip was awesome. We accomplished our goal of not doing anything in particular, including:

Also, Kalev bought some Squirt, which I maintain sounds dirty, and I might have told a waiter that Kalev likes big sticks.

All in all, good times.

  1. since you can only bring $50 back if you stay less than 48 hrs in the US []
  2. I mean, I know it’s a measure of volume, but I couldn’t tell you the gallons-to-litres conversion off the top of my head, so couldn’t even do a ball park estimate []


Dear People of White Rock

Dear People of White Rock,

That thing you saw whizzing by you on the promenade today – the thing dressed in lycra, with an iPhone strapped to its arm, wearing headphones and a water bottle attached to its body, the thing that was putting one foot in front of another in rapid succession – that this is called a “jogger.” Now, I know that you are probably stunned by its chiseled physique and striking good looks, but when you see this “jogger” running along the promenade, you might want to get out of the way. I mean, I know it’s the most amazing thing in the world to walk very slowly, four people wide across the path so that no one else can get by, but seriously people, just step aside for one second. Also, when you are walking on the pier, you might want to look up. I mean, I know it is *thrilling* to stare at slats of wood, but there are plenty of other things to look at – you know, like the spectacular ocean, the gorgeous trees or even the big white rock. Oh yeah, and the jogger!


Me with the eponymous white rock
Me with the eponymous white rock

So today I decided to go for a run in White Rock. Typically, I don’t like to drive to places to run. I much prefer to walk out of my front door and start running, but I was scheduled to run 16 km today and I just can’t bear to run that long without being near some sort of water. And since so many of my coworkers have told me that White Rock is the place to run, I figured I’d give it a try.

I should have known something was amiss when I went into the White Rock Running Room store1 dressed in my running clothes and the salesperson laughed at me. Seriously, is it that odd to see a runner shopping at the Running Room?

Strike #2 was when I parked. There appeared to be NO free parking anywhere, so I had to pay $9 for parking! Nine dollars! That’s more than I usually pay for parking in a month! But I figured I’d already made the trip there, so I should just eat the cost.

Then I started running along the promenade. And seriously, it was worse than running along Kits beach! I know that White Rock is called White Rock because they have, well, a white rock. But I’m going to change its name to Slowwalkersville. Or Getinthewayton. And at least the people on Kits beach have the courtesy, when you say “excuse me,” to at least *try* to get out of the way, however inept their attempts end up being. Not the people in White Rock. They just keep walking along, making you stop until there is an opening in the crowd. FSM forbid they’d have to, you know, walk single file for two seconds to let you by.

And then I got to the end of the promenade.  Or should I say, and then I got within several feet of the end of promenade, when a small, fluffy, innocent looking dog that was tied to a picnic table jumped up and tried to attack me. I actually had to jump back so it couldn’t get me – I mean, I have no idea if it’s going to bite or not. So I’m standing there being barked at quite viciously by a dog and the owner stands up and says, “He always goes after joggers.” And then just stands there. No attempt to get the dog under control, no attempt to pull his leash to stop him from blocking the pathway.  And after a few seconds where it appears that this owner isn’t going to do anything, I just said, “I guess I’ll just turn around then.”  You know, she may as well have just said, “We don’t like your type around here!”

And that was the other weird thing – there were almost no joggers there. In an hour and half of running, I saw a grand total of five joggers.  It seemed crazy to me – I mean, it’s a nice running surface, gorgeous views, a day that is sunny, but not too hot, and there’s a lovely breeze coming off the water. *Perfect* for running. Yet almost know runners.  And now I know why – clearly, my type is not welcome there.

To top off an already crappy run, my RunKeeper app, which I use to tell me how far I’ve run and how fast I’ve been running, paused itself2 at some point during my the run after I left the promenade and continued onto Marine Drive, so I had *no idea* how far I’d run and thus didn’t know when I should turn around to run back. I find it difficult to gauge distance at the best of times and Marine Drive is a big hill3 so I really couldn’t tell from tiredness how far I’d run. And I didn’t pay attention to what time it was when I’d left, so I couldn’t use time as a measure either. So I just turned back after I noticed that my RunKeeper app was off and hoped for the best4.  So not only did I pay $9 to park, not feel welcomed, and nearly get eaten by a rabid dog, but I also came up short by 3 km (!) on my run.  Boo-urns.

I’m never running in White Rock again.

  1. to purchase some Body Glide. Because chaffing is no good for anybody! []
  2. probably it was due to my bulging biceps, which caused the “pause” button to get accidentally push as my iPhone was in my arm holster. Yeah, bulging biceps. Ha! []
  3. I know! I actually *chose* to run up a hill of my own free will. Who *am* I? []
  4. clearly, at this point, I was dejected by all that is running in WR []


Wanted: Sidewalks and Shade

Black Cars Look Better In The Shade

Black cars look better in the shade

My latest complaint against Surrey: in many places, they only have a sidewalk on one side of the street. And it’s not like the sidewalk goes the length of the street on that one side – it will be a few blocks on the east side of the road, then a few blocks on the west side of the street, then back to the east side for the next few blocks. This is not a good way to encourage people to be active – I mean, I’m already running long enough distances, do they really expect me to add to my mileage by having to run back and forth across the street? This problem is exacerbated by the limited amount of shade (at least in my neighbourhood). I’m used to running Vancouver streets, where there are always lots of big tall trees to provide you with much needed shade when running in the sun. Surrey, not so much. And so when you do see that there is a bit of shade, but you don’t get to run in it because there is no sidewalk on that side of the road, well that’s just adding insult to injury.

On the plus side, I think I made sufficient quantities of vitamin D today!


Weak Indeed

Spotted on a mailbox downtown:


Props to Kalev for bringing this hilariousness to my attention!


Probably The Second Most Disgusting Photo I Own

Two Sundays ago, when I got home from my long run1, I discovered that I had a blister on my big toe. This blister, in fact:

Day 62

Believe it or not, I don’t think I’ve ever had a blister on my foot from all the running I’ve done. Blisters from wearing entirely impractical shoes – yes. But from running – no.

I wasn’t sure what the best thing to do with said blister was.  I mean, to pop or not to pop, right? I consulted with Dr. Google and found that the general consensus was not to pop a blister unless it gets uncomfortable or painful, in which case you should pop it with a sterilized blade. Well, when the blister was that size, I didn’t really feel it, so I stuck a band-aid with some polysporin on it. And even after my hill run on Tuesday, it was still OK.  And then I went for my short run today. And somehow this happened:

Day 66

Disgusting, right? I started to feel the blister in the last ~1/2 km of the run and so I knew it wasn’t going to be good. But I didn’t really expect when I took my shoe and sock off that it would be quite so round!  I’m actually amazed that my skin could stretch that much in such a short period of time without bursting! The blister wasn’t painful, exactly, but it definitely felt uncomfortable, as I could feel the neighbouring toe pushing on it (though I guess it really is the blister pushing on the neighbouring toe!).  Anyway, I decided that this uncomfortableness was sufficient to follow Dr. Google’s advice to pop it open! I didn’t have a razor blade, so I decided to sterilize a safety pin and use that.  But, of course, I had to take the above photo first because who doesn’t want to see my disgusting blister, right?

  1. 16 km long, in fact []


Transcription FAIL

So I was asked to call a friend’s Google Voice number and leave a message, because he wanted to see how well it would be transcribed.  Google Voice, for the unintiated, is a super awesome thing where you get a phone number where people can call you and you can have that number forwarded to whichever of your phones you want at any given time, plus you can screen voicemail messages as people leave them, and any voicemail messages you get are transcribed and sent to you. It’s all amazing and wonderful and FREE, except for the minor fact that you can’t have it if you live in Canada.  Anyway, I was asked to leave a message and then my friend sent me the transcript that they received from Google Voice.  And the transcript is full of awesome:

And I did leave a message after the tone. This is Dr. At no
Marian is dead. No calling you from Vancouver,  British
Columbia 3, British Columbia, but we don’t tell anybody,
calling from my  computer. Men for rent today. Well, me
saint call me on the plane and so.

Anyone care to guess what I was *actually* saying in that message?


Welcome to the World, Veronica

Congratulations to Sarah, the Resident Historian and Chief Political Correspondent here on Not To Be Trusted With Knives, and her husband, Dave, and new big brother, Teddy, as their family increased by 33% on August 24 with the introduction of little Veronica Floriana to the world!

As with her brother, you can see from this comparison of photos, clearly Veronica is a clone of me.

Veronica Floriana:


Me as a baby:


Quatchi the Samsquantch

In my Google Reader, along with feeds of all the blogs I read1, I have the feed of a Flickr search for Quatchi, the most adorable of the  Olympic mascots.  During the run up to, and for the duration of, the Olympics, there were tonnes of photos of of this adorable the sasquatch every day. Not surprisingly, there are far fewer Quatchi photos posted in Flickr these days, but I still usually get a few a week.  Like this one of Quatchi eating a French fry, which I can’t post here because it’s copyrighted as “All Rights Reserved.”  But seriously, French fries are my favourite food in the whole world!  It’s like we are twins!

Anyway, the other day this picture popped up in the feed and I nearly snorted milk out of my nose2 (this is a screen shot of the Flickr photo page, so you can see the title):

quatchi the samsquantch

Quatchi, you crazy Samsquantch, you!

  1. and a bunch that I don’t. Note to self: clean up your Google Reader! []
  2. except for the minor fact that I don’t drink milk []


The Zombie-Spider Army Is After Me

First they sent the assassins. Now they have sent the army.

So yesterday after dinner, as I was tidying up before I left to go cat sitting, I reached into my recycling box to pick up some cans and plastic berry boxes to take outside when I saw something move. Something black. And huge. And fast. I think my tweet said it best:


Basically, what I did was get a shoe and bang the recycling container until the monster ran under a berry container which I bashed and bashed and bashed and bashed and bashed with said shoe until said monster was dead.  I know this might not seem like a big deal to you, but I am terrified of spiders, so I was shaking for a good ten minutes afterwards.  And though I’m terrified of spiders, I had to kill it because I’m more terrified of seeing one and then it not being killed and knowing it is in my house somewhere. Seriously, one time I made my friend Linda come over to kill a particularly large one that I just could not get up the guts to go anywhere near, much less come close enough to kill, and I basically cowered in one corner of my apartment whimpering until she got there to off the bastard.

Anyway, I haven’t been back to my place since, as I’ve been cat-sitting and I’m kind of frightened to go back there after work tomorrow, because I know the spider carcass is still sitting in my recycling container. And since no one seems to be taking me up on my offer to let them come over to dispose of the beast.  In fairness, it’s entirely possible that the spider has been reanimated and is now a zombie-spider who is building a zombie-spider army to seek revenge on me, so maybe that’s why no one is willing to come to my rescue.

I’m guessing that I’ll have to spend the day steeling myself to the very real possibility that I will have to do carcass disposal myself. I have, in the past, been able to vacuum a spider up, but I did freak out as the spider body went flying up the vacuum hose that I was holding because even though I couldn’t *see* the spider body, I *knew* it was there, with only a thin piece of plastic between it and my innocent hand! Gah!  And then I shoved the vacuum to the side and didn’t use it again until I could convince my friend Clayton to come over and take the vacuum bag out to the garbage bin outside. Because you just *know* that the zombified spider is not only reanimated but now he’s really pissed because you stuck him in a bag full of dirt and dust and he *will* come after you given the chance.


Hello Autumn, Where the F Did You Come From?

How, exactly, is it the end of August?  Like, seriously, people, it feels like we *just* started to get warm weather, work hasn’t slowed down one iota, and I haven’t had any summer holidays yet. WTF?  And fall is *just* around the corner!  I’m teaching my course at UBC again this fall1, which means I have to have everything all good to go for my first day of class, September 9. Plus I’m signed up to run the Royal Victoria Half Marathon on October 10.  Unlike last year, I registered early ((by which I mean, before the race was full)! Go me!

On the plus side, hockey season starts soon too!  Or should I say hockey seasons, as I’m playing on two teams this year!  I’ve joined a team with some of my coworkers, in addition to my main team, which I’ve played on for the past few years. My main team plays on Sundays and my new team plays on Wednesdays or Sundays, depending on the week, so I’ll be playing all the Wed games and any of the Sun ones that don’t conflict with my main team’s games. Combine that with my half marathon training and my teaching and, well, I guess I’ll talk to y’all in December!

  1. my third year running! w00t! []