Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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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: Strength Training Edition

As you know, one of my goals for 2017 was to learn 12 new things – an average of one per month. First, I learned some basic toilet repair. Then I learned how to fold a fitted sheet. In that second posting, I alluded to the fact that I’m learning something else that required a bigger blog posting – well, this is that blog posting!

This goes back to the old time-y days of 2016, when I was injured so bad with bursitis that I had to walk with a cane for 2 weeks and I had to spend all of the dollars on physiotherapy for months so that I could walk again and I haven’t been running since then. When I was walking with a cane, one of my work colleagues told me that the best thing she ever did was after she got injured, when her physiotherapy was completed, she got a personal trainer. A personal trainer was able to help determine which of her muscles were weak and which were compensating for the weak ones and was able to give her an interesting exercise routine (as opposed to the super boring stretches you have to do when rehabbing an injury) that helped her get stronger so she wouldn’t get re-injured. And while I had made doing regular strength training one of my 2017 goals *and* I have a weight room in building in which to do said strength training, I spent the first two months of 2017 never lifting a single weight. And then I remembered that I suck at weight training because I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing when I walk into a gym – I need someone to tell me what to do1. And then I remembered that I don’t really do any exercise unless I have some external motivator2. And I also remembered that I dislike doing exercise if it takes much more than walking out of my front door to do it because I begrudge the time it takes to drive to a place to exercise and then drive back afterwards3 – it’s one of the reasons I like running! So I joined a gym with personal trainers that is about a block from my place. It meets my needs of being super-conveniently located, it has someone telling me what to do, and I’m externally motivated because I’m paying money for it (and I have to show up 3 days a week to follow my plan!). The place is called Strong Side Conditioning4

Strong Side ConditioningBut it wasn’t just the super-convenient location that convinced me to go to this place. I did a free assessment there where I got to learn about the gym and their business model, to go through an assessment and hear what a plan for me would be like, and to meet some of the staff5. The business model of the gym is that it’s sort of halfway between a gym membership and a personal trainer. With a regular gym membership, you would pay less but not have assistance in creating a plan or assistance with your training (like making sure your form is correct or helping you decide when to go up in weight or number of reps). With a regular personal trainer, you get all 1-on-1 training sessions and pay by the hour (and then maybe do some other training sessions totally on your own, following the plan they’ve created for you) – and the hourly rate is not cheap. At Strong Side, they come up with a training plan for you each month and at the start of the month, you get a week’s worth of 1-on-1 sessions to learn your exercises (in my case, I chose 3 days a week, so I got 3 training session to learn my 3 workouts) and after that you have 3 weeks where you drop into the gym at your convenience to do your workouts, but there are a bunch of trainers circulating to help you if needed. You record your workouts and the trainers can see how you are progressing and then they make up a new training plan for the next month and repeat.

I started on March 3, and so far I’ve had my three training sessions, and done four solo sessions. My assessment had shown that I basically use my diaphragm and my quads for everything and all my other muscles don’t do anything. So I’m working on releasing the tension in my ribs and quads and strengthening my everything else so that my everything else will stop being such a bunch of freeloaders. I do exercises with a variety of resistance bands, free weights, kettle bells, machines, risers, sliding thingys, and more, so I’m learning the proper form for all kinds of exercises and what muscles should be doing stuff during those exercises. There are always plenty of trainers around watching during my solos sessions to tell me if my form is right or needs adjusting and I’m already seeing some improvements (in that I can do more reps of some things and squat lower than I could two weeks ago). And the trainers I’ve met, which I think is most of them by now, are all really friendly and helpful and down-to-earth.

The only thing that I can say that I don’t like is that I wish they had longer hours – they open at 6:30 am on weekdays, so if I want to do a morning workout, by the time I get through my workout, go home and shower and get ready, and then head into Vancouver, I’m not getting to my office until about 9:30 am, which is a bit later than I’d like (and on many days, too late as I have meetings at 8 or 9 am). Similarly, they close at 9 pm on weekdays, which means that if I don’t want to have to rush through my workout, I have to get there by 7:30 pm, which can sometimes be difficult for me on a busy day. I get that the hours of operation are constrained by the need to have enough trainers around and it doesn’t make any business sense to have the gym open at 5:30 am and close at 11 pm on the off chance that I might want to be there extra early or extra late once in a while. All in all, having to get to the gym within their set hours is a small price to pay for what I’m getting out of my membership!

Anyhoo, so far so good. I’m sure I’ll blog more about my exciting strength training adventures as the year goes on!

Strong Side Conditioning

  1. Similarly, when I’m running, I always have to be training for a race, because I need a plan to follow as without one, I can’t seem to make a simple decision, like how often I should run or how far should I run on a given day. []
  2. Unless it’s hockey, but that doesn’t count because it’s so fun in and of itself that I don’t even think of it as exercise. []
  3. Again, hockey excepted. []
  4. As always, I haven’t been paid to blog about them, nor have I even talked to them about the fact that I’m writing a blog posting – I am blogging about them because I like them! I’m actually paying lots of money to go there! lol! []
  5. I also did a free assessment with a personal trainer whose gym is literally across the street from my office (Did I mention I need something conveniently located?). He seemed nice and all, but he charges by the hour for training sessions, so it would work out to a lot more than Strong Side (though in the end I’d get less service) – I liked the business model of Strong Side better and I clicked more with the staff. Also, the trainer near my work said he was a Philadelphia Flyers fan and said “I have to have a Canadian team too, so I’m a Leafs fan.” I’m not saying that I decided I couldn’t work with a Flyers/Leafs fan – but I’m not saying that I could. []

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Pool

So I finally, after years of living in New West, went to the Canada Games Pool last night. My physio recommended that I try water running1 as a way of being active while my hip isn’t 100% ready for real running yet. It allows you to do the motions of running and get some cardio, but without putting weight on the injured joint.  Plus it’s also just a good workout because of the resistance of the water. Also, there’s a hot tub right next to the pool.

Water running was definitely a good workout and because I’m new to it, I was really paying attention to my form, which I’m hoping will help me once I’m back to non-water running, as it will hopefully get rid of the bad form that I had due to the sprained ankle which lead to the borked hip.

Tonight I went skating to see how that would feel. My physio said once it feels OK to skate *and* it feels OK the next day after I skate, I’m allowed to play hockey again. The skating felt OK today, so I guess I’ll see how I feel in the morning and then make a decision on whether I will play hockey on Sunday!

In conclusion: progress!

  1. Yes, water running is exactly what it sounds like – running along a swim lane in a pool. []

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PechaKucha

Last night I went to my first ever PechaKucha event!

PechaKucha is a style of presentation where the speaker has a slide deck of 20 slides that
automatically move along every 20 seconds. People can talk about anything that they are passionate about. It makes for fast-paced, entertaining talks and, since people can talk about anything, exposes you to a wide variety of topics, some of which you might not have thought about before.

Last night’s presenters at PechaKucha New West included a diverse array of topics such as addiction and recovery, music, celebrating menopause, gardening, and online dating. And each of them were so interesting in their own way. It’s hard to describe – you really should go to one of these events if you get a chance (they are held all over the world).

In addition to the great speakers, it was also awesome to just have a chance to mingle with friends and meet some new people. I’m looking forward to the next one on Feb 25!

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Who Wants To Go To A Fundraiser?

The Arts Council of New Westminster1 is having a fundraiser next week and you’re invited!

When: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM (you don’t have to be there right at 6 –  you can show up anytime between 6 and 10 pm)

Where: MATCH Eatery & Public House (at Starlight Casino – New Westminster, 350 Gifford Street, New Westminster

What: Ticket includes Burger and Beer (or wine)

Join us for an celebration of the arts including a silent auction, live painting from local artists Danielle Bobier and Pierre Kaufman, music created by local musician, HARGOW. (Wes Koopmans), and visual projections by local artist Tetsuomi Anzai.  Funds raised at this event will be used to bolster the delivery of our outreach and education programs, including ArtsToGo and LitFest NewWest.

How:

LIMITED AVAILABILITY. ONLY 60 TICKETS AVAILABLE!
Tickets are $25 (+ $2.11 Eventbrite Fees)
TICKETS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR. PURCHASE IN ADVANCE.

Go to EventBrite to get your ticket!

  1. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of the Arts Council. []

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Birthday Report

So I had a birthday. Apparently my cats knew it was my birthday, because they gave me a present: one of their toys was in the bag that I take to work when I got up on Monday morning. So thoughtful of them.

Kitties gave me this present for my birthday

At work, some of my coworkers took me out for lunch, which was very sweet of them! And that night a group of friends took me out for dinner to El Santo, a new Mexican restaurant in New West that everyone has been raving about. I completely forgot to get a photo of all of us at dinner, because I’m old and senile. But I did manage to get a shot of me with my birthday dessert – Potted Tres Leches – which the restaurant gave to me for free, what with it being my birthday and all. It was delicious!

Birthday dessert at El Santo

The next day I received a hard copy of the latest issue of the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, in which I have an article!

Hard copy of a journal article that I wrote

Then I didn’t really do anything birthday-related until Saturday, when I had my birthday party, by which point I’d kind of forgotten that it was even for my birthday, which seemed like eons ago. Before the party I told myself “I’m totally going to remember to take photos, because I never take photos when I have a party and I totally should.” And then I took zero photos. Cath took a photo of Watson smelling her sock, because he was smelling her sock for like 5 minutes1, but as far as I know that is the only photographic evidence of the event. I suppose this is actually a sign of a good party, as I was too busy actually chatting with all my guests2 to think about photography. Anyway, the Coles notes version of the party is that I had a blast – my friends are awesome and my cats were very entertaining – despite not going onto the very top platform of their new cat tree despite everyone’s attempts to get them to do so. Thanks to everyone who came, thanks for all the lovely gifts (which you totally didn’t need to bring), and special thanks to Michelle for making a delicious salted caramel chocolate cake and to my sister for sending an edible fruit arrangement3

I would also like to point out that since 2016 is a leap year, I get to have a whole extra day before I turn the big 4-0. I think this was an excellent choice on my part.

  1. Cath has two cats, so I’m betting Watson was picking up Google and Saba’s scent. []
  2. As well as mixing the occasional drink and putting out the way too much food that I made. []
  3. And she wasn’t even able to come to the party! []

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Where Should I Keep My Compass Card?

Compass CardTranslink is in the process of introducing the Compass Card, which is a new fare card system for riding transit in the Greater Vancouver area. In the past, we’ve used a paper-based honour system – you either had a paper monthly pass or paper tickets (that you validated at a machine) and then just walked onto the bus/Skytrain/Seabus – on the bus you either showed your monthly pass to the driver or stuck your single use ticket into a machine to verify that it was good for that day & time – and on Skytrain you just walked on, though there was sometimes Translink staff checking fares either on the train or in the fare paid zone of the station (I rarely taketheSeabus, so I don’t remember if they checked your fare when you got on or if it was an honour system like Skytrain).

Now we have the Compass Card, which requires you to tap your card on a reader on the way in and out of a Skytrain or Seabus station, or just tap in on the bus. The reason for tapping in and out is that there are different fare zones, so they need to know if you traveled in one, two, or three zones to know how much to charge you. If you forget to tap out, they will charge you for the full 3 zones, so it’s really important to remember to tap out. At the moment, we are in a transition period where you can use either the Compass Card or the old paper passes/tickets, so they haven’t closed all the fare gates (as the paper users don’t have any way to getTransLink Compass Card Gate the fare gates to open), so it’s actually easy to just walk through the fare gates and forget to tap out. The buses only require a tap in because it turns out that the system – which cost way more and took way longer to get implemented than they had planned – is too damn slow so if they required everyone to tap out, it would slow the buses down so much that they’d never be able to maintain a reasonable schedule, so they had to make it that buses only charge a 1 zone fare, regardless of how many zones you actually traveled through.

I got my Compass Card on Oct 16 – just a bit before they were released widely to the public – because Kalev told me that you could get one early if you went to a machine at Waterfront Station that is close to the West Coast Express. WCE users were one of the groups that got earlier access to Compass Cards as part of the phased roll out of Compass. I figured I’d get mine there so as to avoid being caught in a lineup once they were released at all the other machine.

One of the nice things about the Compass Card is that you can register it online so that you can (a) get any money stored on your card back if you lose the card, (b) pay foryour monthly pass online (so you don’t have to stand in that giant line up at Safeway (or other fare dealer) at the end of the month), and (c) set up an auto re-load of money on the card if you are just paying per trip, so you never need to buy a ticket – you just always have money on your card!

Compass Card Point (Bus)I’ve been using my Compass Card for two months now and while it’s more of a hassle than having a paper monthly pass, which only required me to buy a pass at the start of the month and then leave it in my wallet and just walk on and off the Skytrain at my leisure, it’s more convenient than having to validate a single use paper ticket every time I went on Skytrain, especially at New West station, where the ticket validating machines are located in such a way that I had to go out of my way to validate them and then double back to go the train. And given that a monthly pass is only worth buying if I’m transiting to work on the vast majorityweekdays – and between September and November I wasn’t, as I drove to work on Wednesdays due to having to go up to Burnaby Mountain to teach at SFU (and transiting up there and home afterwards would take eleventy thousand hours) – I’ve actually preferred having the Compass card asI don’t have to go out of my way to validate those paper tickets for each trip.

However, one challenge I have is where I should keep my Compass card. When not in transit, I keep it in my wallet. But while transiting, I need to take it out to tap it on the card reader and it doesn’t seem worth putting it back in my wallet each time, as my daily commute involves four (4!!) taps – I have to tap into the Expo Line at New West, out of Expo Line at Waterfront, into Canada Line at Waterfront, and then out of Canada Line at Broadway-City Hall. On Skytrain, I’m usually reading stuff on my phone or my eReader, so I generally just hold onto my card with my device, but it seems like I’m going to drop the damn thing one of these days. And once I’m done all the transiting, I end up holding it until I get to my office, as it’s a big rush of people and I don’t want to stop in the middle of all that to put my card into my wallet. I should probably get a case for my phone that has an easily accessible pocket for my card. But I’m curious as to what other people do with their Compass (or similar type transit fare card in other cities). What do you do with yours, dear readers?

Update: I can’t believe I forgot to mention this! When you register your Compass Card online, they ask you to name it. Mine is named “Trillian” (cf. Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car).

Image Credits:

Compass card photo is my own photo.

Fare gates photo posted by Go To Van on Flickr with a Creative Commons licence.

Card reader on bus photo posted by Ian Alexander Martin on Flickr with a Creative Commons licence.

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Beer & Bling Report

Thursday night a few friends and I went to Beer & Bling, an event held at Working Silver, a silversmithing shop, where local jewelry makers were selling their wares while sampling some fine Steel & Oak beer, with beer proceeds going to the Arts Council of New Westminster 1. And I have to say that the turnout was great, both the beer and the jewelry were excellent, and it appeared that lots of both were being sold!
My friend Heather stopped by on her way to dance class, my friends Kim and Cath came in from Vancouver (with poor Cath making an accidental side trip to Surrey because she was on an Expo Line instead of a Millennium Line train2.) and my friend Erin came over from Surrey. Cath did the lion’s share of her Christmas shopping, Kim did a mix of shopping for gifts for others and gifts for herself, and I bought one gift for someone else and a few things for me, and Erin got herself a ring plus a bunch of business cards so she can go check out the artists websites and spend some time deciding what to buy3

I can’t show you what I bought as a present lest the recipient be tipped off, but I can show you what I got for myself!

First I got myself a Christmas tree ornament:

Christmas tree ornament 2015
It a Christmas tree to hang on the Christmas tree. Meta-Christmas, if you will.

And I also treated myself to this necklace and these earrings:

Earrings and necklace

They kind of look like (a) you could do some serious damage with them in a street fight and (b) you could use them to ask Scotty to beam you up.

  1. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of the Arts Council. []
  2. For those of you not from the Vancouver area, the Expo Line and the Millennium Line run the exact same route from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver until they get to Columbia Station in New Westminster, at which point Millennium Line loops through New West and Burnaby, and back to Vancouver, whereas Expo Line crosses the river into Surrey. If you are Skytraining just within Vancouver and Burnaby, you don’t need to pay attention to which train you get on, so many a Vancouverite who ventures out into the ‘burbs has found themselves on the wrong Skytrain thinking “omg! Why are we going over a bridge???” []
  3. I don’t think Heather got anything, but I could be wrong. []

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Beer & Bling

I’m stealing this directly off the website of Working Silver, a silversmith who offer silversmithing supplies, classes, and silver jewelry for sale. They are having a Christmas shopping night that is paired with beer drinking, which is also a fundraiser for the Arts Council of New Westminster, a nonprofit organization of which I’m on the board of directors. You should check it out!

BEER & BLING Christmas Shopping Night!

Dec 10th 5-10pm

Sample Craft Beer made by our friends at Steel & Oak and do your Christmas Shopping at the Arts council LOGO same time!  Hand made sterling silver jewellery by local artisans, Jewellery making Classes, and Gift Certificates make wonderful Christmas gifts!!

At the Workingsilver store and teaching studio, we are all about hand made sterling silver jewellery and supporting local artisans.  Partial proceeds from the Beer Tasting will go to the New Westminster Arts Council.

Workingsilver: 131 E Columbia Street, New Westminster

  • Driving: 5 minutes from Hwy 1.  FREE off street parking available behind the building for this event
  • Walking:  5 minute walk from the Sapperton SkyTrain Station
  • Free Parking available behind building after 6pm

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New West Food Truck Festival

The donut race wasn’t the only blogworthy eating that I did this weekend. Saturday was the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest in New Westminster. For 6+ hours, Columbia St (a.k.a., right outside my front door) was lined for as far as the eye could see with 70 food trucks (plus 30 other “food outlets”1.) And the street was packed – it seemed like every truck had a line at least 15 people long and many much longer2. Apparently, an estimated 90,000 attended!

In addition to all the trucks, there was entertainment, like a “chalk zone” for kiddies to draw on the street with sidewalk chalk, dance lessons from a swing dance group, and not one but *two* busker tents hosted by the Arts Council of New West. As you may recall, I’m on the board of the ACNW and on Saturday I did my boardly duty of volunteering at one of the busker tents. Which basically meant being around the tent in case the buskers needed anything and mostly just enjoying the music. Here’s one of them – a father-daughter pair named Roland and Emma Nipp:

During my volunteer shift, I had my dinner #1 – an Australian meat pie from the Aussie Pie Guy3 Omg, that might just be the best meat pie I’ve ever eaten!

I had great intentions of photographing all my meals, which lasted exactly one photo:

Aussie Meat Pie. So delicious. new West Food Truck Fest.

At the end of my shift, Daniel and the kids showed up, and we went off in search of their dinner (and my dinner #2). There were sooo many options that it was hard to choose, but in the end Daniel got a pulled pork sandwich (I can’t remember from which truck) and the kids and I settled on some tacotinas (for the kids) and a burrito (for me) from Arturo’s. Next up was ice cream from Rocky Point Ice Cream, but I was too full to have any! The kids, however, seemed quite enjoy their salted caramel ice cream!

After that, we decided to head to my apartment so the kids could play with the cats and, much to my surprise, you could hear the music from the busker’s tent in my place. It was a clear as if they were performing *in* my living room!

In conclusion: A++. Would food truck again.

  1. I think that refers to the tables of farmer’s market vendors selling food stuffs that were also on the street. []
  2. Some of my friends waited 45 minutes at the Bannock Wagon to get some bannock. Mmmm, bannock. []
  3. As always, I have no affiliation with any of the business mentioned in this posting! []