Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Deep Into Darkness

On Friday, my friend Alicia and I went to the theatre. But it wasn’t just your average play. Described as an “immersive theatre experience” going into the mind of Edgar Allan Poe, Deep Into Darkness starts with some instructions from cast members in the area of the theatre where you’d usually gather during intermission:

  • audience members all wear white masks while in the theatre and must remain silent
  • once inside, you can roam around the theatre, exploring any room you like (except for any door that says “Do Not Enter)
  • you can touch anything you want – and are encouraged to riffle through drawers, read books, open containers – as long as you leave everything exactly where you found it
  • crew members wear black masks and if they touch you on the shoulder and move you from where you are, follow their instructions (because basically you are going to be in the way of something an actor is about to do)
  • a performer may extend their hand to invite you into a scene with them – you can accept the offer if you like, or cross your hands over your chest to signify that you would like to be left alone

And then you enter the theatre and your experience begins.

Creepy white mask

The logistics of the experience are pretty easy to explain (as above), but trying to explain the show is… difficult. There are a number of different rooms that all have a gothic sort of feel to them. One room is a bar that looks like a brawl has taken place. Another is a living room, another has a dining table. There’s a nursery, a bedroom, an outdoor shed, and various other creepy settings in rooms and hallways throughout the building. The performers move about these various spaces performing various scenes. You are free to follow a character around, or just go exploring to see what scene is happening in another place. It’s hard to really explain what the scenes were – some were fights, some were erotic, some were both, and some were quite mundane – like a woman giving a man a shave, or a women very, very slowly tearing a piece of paper. I honestly don’t know who all the characters were supposed to be and there’s no clear narrative. Also, none of the actors say a word – although they do groan, scream, and laugh maniacally. I read a few reviews to see if there was some obvious plot that I was missing, but there was not. The term “fever dream” was probably the best descriptor I’ve seen used to describe the show.

And while not having a plot, dialogue, or any real sense of who the characters were might make it sound pointless, it actually was a very cool experience. To me, I think the show was more about the feelings you got as an audience member experiencing a performance in a very different way. Some of my take homes from this were:

  • No two audience members saw the same show. Because while you were in one scene, several other scenes were happening in other rooms that you weren’t seeing. There were characters I saw over and over again in different scenes, but then like an hour and a half into the show I’d see a new character and think “who is that?” But they would have been doing scenes all evening in different rooms that I didn’t happen to be in.
  • There was an entire section of that I never saw and only found out about after the show when I talked to Alicia. “Did you go in the basement with all the tiny rooms?” she asked. I never even saw the stairway to the basement! It was kind of miffed that I missed out on seeing that part, but I had also been thinking about how you have to accept that there was no way you could have seen everything, because you can’t be in all the places at once!
  • There was an intimacy between the actors and the audience in a way that you don’t usually get at the theatre. At one point, an actor sat down at a writing desk to write in a book and I stood right behind him and looked over his shoulder to see what he was writing. Later another man sat at the same desk, wrote on a piece of paper, tore it in half and handed half to me and half to another audience member.
  • There was another scene in a very narrow hallway where there were audience members on both sides of the actors and everyone was crowded around to see – it was almost claustrophobic it was so tight.
  • Other audience members also became part of the performance, whether because an actor engaged them in some way or because they just walked through a scene you were watching. At various point, audience members just sat down on a couch or chair that was right in a middle of a scene to watch it, so if you were watching from the side of the room, you would be watching them too.
  • At one point an actor took an audience member by the hand and led her into a room with a crucifix on the door and closed the door. When the audience member’s friend tried to follow, a crew member blocked the door and wouldn’t let them in. They were in the room for like 5 minutes – I’m super curious about what happened in there!

All in all, I’d have to say that I quite enjoyed the show. But I’m like the worst theatre reviewer ever, because the show ends tomorrow so unless you happen to already have a ticket, you won’t get to see it. #WorstTheatreReviewerEver

Also, before the show, Alicia and I were chatting with a couple whose daughter was one of the performers. The man suggested that we should read about Poe’s life, as he was totally crazy (Poe, not the man we were chatting with). But he also said he thought Poe was writing in the 1960s and I was like “I think more like the 1860s”, so then I totally decided to look it up after the show. According to Wikipedia, Poe was born in 1809 and died when he was only 40 years old! Other interesting facts include:

  • he was born Edgar Poe but was taken in by John and Frances Allan when he was two, as his father had abandoned the family the year after he was born and his mom died the next year
  • he married his 13 year old cousin when he was 27; she died of tuberculous 11 years later
  • the cause of Poe’s death is a mystery. Apparently he was found delirious, walking the streets of Baltimore. He was “not coherent enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. He is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring.” (source). He was taken to the hospital, and died there a few days later. All the medical records of this, including his death certificate, were lost.

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Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Sewing Edition

Knowing about my goal to learn one new thing every month this year, Cath suggested we try out a sewing class at Spool of Thread in Vancouver1. I’d never sewn anything using a sewing machine before, and Cath hadn’t sewn since high school where she used a machine from the Stone Age, so we took the introductory how-to-make-a-tote-bag class. Our other friend, Stephanie, who has a little more experience than Cath and I, also joined in the fun.

Fabric at Spool of Thread sewing shopI have to say, Spool of Thread is a cool little business. They sell sewing supplies, hold sewing classes to make things of varying levels of difficulty, and you can even rent time on their sewing machines (along with use of the associated space and equipment – a big table to cut out your fabric, irons and ironing boards, and all the pins in the world). The renting of the sewing machine time is a particularly good idea in a city where everyone lives in tiny condos (because who has room for a sewing machine?) – and also for people who have curious cats that love to sit on whatever you are working on at the moment (because who wants to end up sewing a cat into their tote bag?).

Fabric to make a tote bag at my sewing classYou could bring your own fabric to the class, but we all elected to buy some fabric there. There was an extensive range of options and I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to choose. The tote bag is reversible, which meant we had to pick two fabrics, and every time I picked one that I liked, I couldn’t decide on another one that would go with it. I. The end I decided to go with a black and white theme and picked ampersands on one fabric and stars on the other.

The sewing teacher, whose name I completely forget, explained all the parts of the sewing machine, took us through how to thread the sewing machine, and then step-by-step through how to make our tote bags.

As it turns out, the easiest part of sewing is the sewing part. Threading the machine, cutting your fabric, and pinning it together correctly take about 99.9% of the time and effort, but the actual sewing is relatively easy, at least as far as sewing a tote bag where you only need to sew in straight lines. And while not all my lines came out perfectly straight, they came out straight enough and Cath and I agreed that we are both better sewers than we are painters.

Here we at with our fabulous tote bags:

Cath, Stephanie, & Beth at sewing class

Cath, Stephanie, and me with our new tote bags!

During the class, when we were cutting our fabric, the teacher mentioned that we’d have enough leftover fabric to take the how-to-make-zippered-pouches class – we’d learn how to sew a zipper and have pouches to match our totes! He also mentioned that since we get the pattern and instructions for the tote bag, we probably should come back to rent a machine to make another one to reinforce our learning. Sewing machine and Fabric to make a tote bag at my sewing classAnd when Cath inquired into it later, apparently the zipped pouch course is more advanced, so we’d need to take at least one more introductory level class before we do zippered pouches. So they’ve really got a good little system set up from a business perspective because all of that does make sense – I do want to have pouches that match my tote and I want to learn how to sew more things and I kinda want another tote bag – and it all just so happens to increase their sales!

All in all, I really enjoyed my sewing class! I got to make something useful (I often use my tote bag to bring stuff to work), I learned something new, and now I want to do more sewing!

  1. As usual, I have no relationship with this company other than that I am a customer. []

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It Wouldn’t Be Vancouver if We Weren’t Talking About the Weather

It rained in Vancouver yesterday, so naturally everyone was all “WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET SUMMER?????” and then I was all “Um, didn’t we have like 2 weeks of straight sunshine? Haven’t we had summer weather pretty much since April??” And then I was like this:

So then I decided to go to the data. According to vancouver.weatherstats.ca, this has been our rainfall in Vancouver for the past two weeks:

Rainfall over the last 2 weeks

So we haven’t had *straight* sunshine for two weeks leading up to yesterday’s rainy day – we had a whooping 0.6 mm of rain on Aug 2 and 1.8 mm on Aug 3. And then no other rain in the past two weeks!

And then I looked at the temperatures. According to Accuweather, we had temperatures at or above the historical average for:

  • 28 of 30 days in April
  • 29 of 31 days in May
  • 24 of 30 days in June
  • 27 of 31 days in July
  • 5 of the 10 days so far in August1

Here are the graphs, because all data should always be graphed2!

April 2016 temperatures

May 2016 temperature

June 2016 temperatures

July 2016 temperatures

August 2016 temperatures

Now, I realize that last summer it was even hotter and much, much drier. So much drier that we were on water restrictions due to the drought were experiencing3. But this summer has been warm and sunny here in Vancouver and I’m actually sad that it’s on its way out – sunset is coming noticeably earlier and I’m having to think about whether I need to bring a sweater with me when I go out if I’m going to be out until the evening, which I haven’t had to do for quite some time. But I am glad that we’ve had a long summer and I do plan to enjoy the remaining above average temperatures we have coming for the rest of this month!

  1. With a forecast that we’ll be at or above historical average temperatures from now until Aug 29. []
  2. Note that I didn’t make the graphs – I just took screenshots from Accuweather. []
  3. And as much as I love the heat, I prefer not having all the plants dying and not worrying if we were going to run out of water! []

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One week until the Scotiabank half marathon…

… and this is what my left ankle looks like:

Swollen ankle

🙁

While out for a run yesterday, I stepped on an uneven bit of pavement and went over on my ankle a bit. I felt the tweak at the time it happened, but it didn’t hurt and so I continued on my merry way. And I was actually surprisingly merry given that it was a torrential downpour that I was running in! When I got home, I was so wet that I looked like I’d jumped in the river! My socks contained 57 ml of water1! Later in the day, I could definitely feel that I’d done something to my ankle, but it looked fine. I’ve kept off my feet as much as possible yesterday and today, but this afternoon I looked at it and saw it was quite swollen. I’m sitting with some ice on it right now and that seems to be helping.

This just seems to be par for the course for my training this year, which has gone something like this:

  • went running on Jan 9, then got a really bad cold that kept me from running
  • went running 3 times in a week (so think I’m really getting my training going) in mid-Feb, then got food poisoning and then before I got back to running, I got zombie eyeball disease

In March, I finally got back into running regularly, but it’s just been… hard. I usually have most of my runs where I feel great, whereas this year I feel like I’ve had at least a run every two weeks that’s been tough. My zone 1 pace (which is where I am supposed to do most of my training – keeping my average heart rate at ~148) has been much slower than I’d like and though it’s improved a bit, it’s not improved as much as I would have liked. Halfway through last week’s 19 km run, my IT band started killing me (though foam rolling this week seems to have helped). And now it’s a week before the race and I have an injured ankle. I was really hoping to do some good little race prep runs this week, but now I think I’ll hold off until my ankle feels better… or until race day comes – whatever comes first.

OK, I think it’s time to switch to a heat pack on my ankle.

Also – don’t forget that there’s still time to sponsor my run with a donation to my fundraiser for the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Organization!

  1. My socks were soooo wet that I just had to weigh them and then I weighed an identical pair that I have that were dry – the difference was 57 g, which means there was 57 ml of water in my socks! []

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My Friends and I Ran A Marathon Yesterday

Yesterday was the 45th running of the Vancouver marathon and I ran in it!

Other statements that are true include:

  • My friends and I ran a marathon yesterday
  • I ran across the finish line of the Vancouver marathon yesterday.

I did not, however, run the entire 42.2 km. Instead, I took part in the marathon relay with my friends Julie, Jen, and Pam. The way the relay works is that you have 4 runners on your team – Runner A starts at the starting line with all the full marathoners, but at the 12 km mark there is a relay exchange point at which Runner A hands off a belt, which contains your team’s timing chip, to Runner B, who runs the next 12 km, and then hands the belt with the timing chip to Runner C, who runs 5 km and then hands the belt off to Runner D, who then runs the remaining 13 km of the race. There are timing points at each relay exchange area, so the time of each leg, as well as the time of the entire duration of the race, is recorded. Honestly, I think this may be the only way I’ll ever participate in a full marathon – the way where you don’t actually have to run the full 42.2 km!

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Our team was named the Tenacious Tempos! Props to Julie for coming up with the name!

I was Runner D – also known as the anchor. The downside of being the anchor is that you do a lot of waiting – there are shuttle buses that take the relay runners from the start area to their exchange points, but the buses got us to our exchange point at 9:15 am and by my team’s estimates, I wasn’t expecting to start until 12 pm! Also, the area where the shuttle buses dropped us off, which is also where the portapotties were located, was about eleventy billion kilometres from the actual exchange point and while many runners went over to the exchange and then had to walk all the way back to go pee before they actually ran, a small group of us decided that we had no interest in doing all that extra walking, so we hung out by the buses (where there were benches and stuff to sit on) until it was time for a pre-race pee and then we headed over to the exchange.

Happily, it was a nice sunny day and I was prepared with sunscreen and a book to read. I also spent some time chatting with my fellow anchors from the other teams and Andrew dropped by to say “hi” to me as well.

IMG_2394

Me, waiting for Julie (Runner C) at the exchange point. I have no idea why my hair is this terrible *before* I even started running!

The plus side of being the anchor is that you get to run over the finish line! I tend to find finish lines very motivating and usually can find some energy to put on a good kick at the end – even if I feel like I’m just barely hanging on up until the finish line is in sight, once I see it, I find a previously unavailable store of energy for a sprint to the finish! But I’m getting ahead of myself!

The route that I got to run was a lovely one – we went over the Burrard St bridge, then along Pacific, which turns into Beach, which then takes you into Stanley Park, and then we went all around the Seawall, and then along Georgia and up to Pender to the finish line. It was flat and scenic, which is just how I like my race routes to be! It was also very hot – especially since I didn’t start running until about noon! I spent a significant portion of the race  wiping the fog from my sunglasses, because I was so hot and sweaty!

As for the running itself, I was pleased with my run. As you know, I’ve only really been training for about a month due to having all the sicknesses in the early part of this year, so my fitness level is way below what it was last year. I’ve been running my zone 1 runs at about a 7:30 min/km pace and my recent blood lactate assessment1 shows all my zones to be considerably slow compared to this time last year (which is not surprising, given that this time last year I’d spent ~4 months training for the BMO half marathon). But I decided that my relay run would be a good chance to see how well I could do in a zone 2 run (as most of my training focuses on zone 1, which helps to raise my aerobic threshold, but is not the zone that you want to run a 13 km or a 21.1 km race in), and I was pleasantly surprised with what I could do! I managed to run the 13.2 km at an average pace of 6:27 mins/km – and I felt strong! The last 3 km I definitely had to work to keep up that pace – my body was tiring and wanted to slow down, but I dug deep and focused on maintaining the pace. It’s funny, because as I was running I was thinking “Wow, I can’t believe how fast I’m running this! This is awesome!”, but afterwards I realized that last year I’d run 8 km more at an average pace of 5:45 km/km! But it’s all relative and given my start to this year, I was happy with my performance. The official race results clocked my leg of the race at 1:29:51, but that includes the exchange (which necessitated a hug with Runner C before I took off on my leg) – my runner watch indicates that my actual running time was 1:26:55.

After the race, the Tenacious Tempos went for a lovely brunch – which really is the main reason that we do these races. Well, the brunch and the medal!

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The Tenacious Tempos showing off their race bling!

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My race bib has taken it’s place on my board along with its fellow race bibs. Also, this is probably the coolest race number I’ve ever had: 9900!

IMG_2409

A new medal for my collection. Medal #2 for 2016!

  1. A new blog posting coming on that soon! []

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Art of Spice

On Friday, I checked out this new Indian restaurant. I was a bit hesitant to go there at first because there was no one in the place – which is generally a bad sign for a restaurant – but it’s pretty new, so we decided to be adventurous and give it a go. And it did not disappoint!

We had some veggie pakoras, chicken vindaloo, and palak paneer and they were all delicious. Plus the servings were pretty big, so despite the fact that we were full when we left, there were lots of leftovers. When I first looked at the menu, I thought the prices were a bit steep, but then I realized that the dishes included rice and naan (whereas I’m used to going to Indian restaurants where you have to order the rice and naan separate), so the prices were on par with other good Indian restaurants that I’ve been to.

They unfortunately are still waiting for the liquor license which might explain, in part, the lack of customers, but I think it’s probably also that people don’t know about them. So I figured I’d blog about them, because the food really was good and the people running the place seemed so nice, and I’d hate to see the place go under for lack of people knowing about them1.The restaurant is located at 1355 Hornby Street, so if you are downtown and looking for Indian food, you might want to check them out.

 

  1. Not that my blog has tonnes of readers, but every little bit helps, right? I also wrote reviews on Yelp and Zomato – those will probably be more helpful! []

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Running for the Kitties

So now that spring has sprung in Vancouver and all of the various pathogens with which I’ve been infected appear to have left the building, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things running-wise. I’m really, really slow from having taken so much time off from running1, but I’m confident that if I keep getting out there, the speed will eventually return.

I met up with my BMO Marathon Relay teammates for brunch on Saturday to discuss logistics, and I’m really looking forward to that event, which a mere 20 days from now! Fortunately, I’m training for the Scotiabank Half Marathon and the 13 km I will need to run for my leg of the relay is in line with my training plan2.

And speaking of the Scotiabank Half Marathon, I’ve signed up to run as part of Team VOKRA, which is raising money for the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Organization (VOKRA), which I’m sure you will remember is where I got my kitties from. They do good work in rescuing kitties and finding them safe and loving homes, so I’m happy to help support their work. While VOKRA is run by volunteers, there are lots of costs that need to be covered when it comes to rescuing, caring for, and eventually placing homeless cats in their forever homes such as:

  • prenatal, natal, and bottle feeding program
  • trap/spay or neuter/return program
  • supplying all foster homes with food and supplies
  • medical emergencies/medications

The team has a goal of raising $10,000 through our Scotiabank Half Marathon fundraising, so please consider donating on my fundraising page:

Watson in a bow tieWatson & Crick say “Please Sir or Madam, won’t you donate to help the kitties?”

  1. Not to mention the [redacted number] lbs that I gained over the winter thanks to taking so much time off from running and also Drink-cember. []
  2. I’m scheduled to run 13 km the week before BMO, as it so happens. The weekend of BMO is supposed to be a “rest” week where I go back to 8 km, but I figure two 13 km long runs in a row will be fine. []

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My New Messenger Bag

Generally speaking, I’m a cheap, cheap frugal woman. I prefer buying my clothes at thrift stores over paying retail prices1 ,2. I collect AirMiles and Shoppers Optimum points and various other points that I can turn into money. Today I was very excited to learn that the cobbler near my office has a “buy 10, get the 11th one free” card for shoe re-heeling, as I wear out heel tips pretty quickly and I’ll re-heel a shoe several times rather than throwing them out and buying a new pair3.

However, there are certain things I’m willing to spend money on. Laser eye surgery was one – I wasn’t going to trust my vision to a pay-for-one-eye, get-the-other-eye-zapped-for-free scheme. Getting my hair coloured is another – I figure my hair is beside my face every single day, so it makes it worth my while to pay Jenny Lynn to work her magic rather than go to a cheaper place (or try to do it myself at home!). I also made a deal with myself once I finished paying off my student loans that I wasn’t going to buy any cheap Ikea furniture again – when I want a new piece of furniture, I look for a good quality piece that will last me, rather than something disposable.

So this brings me to my latest purchase. As someone who commutes via transit, I need a good bag for carrying stuff to and from work. At a minimum, I’m carrying a wallet, phone, various keys, my eReader, an umbrella, and my travel coffee mug and these items are often joined by some combination of a notebook, journal articles, a laptop, my lunch, my breakfast, etc. Up until now, I’ve been using a variety of tote bags, but inevitably, they eventually fall apart (usually the straps end up wearing through and breaking). So I decided it was high time I invest in a really good quality bag that willl last, rather than continuing to buy bags that end up in the landfill after a year or two.

I had it in my head that I’d like to get a nice messenger bag, but after searching through a ridiculous number of stores, I couldn’t find anything I liked. A friend of mine recommend that I check out Saddleback Leather which admittedly has lovely stuff and, while I’m willing to pay for quality, when you factor in the current US exchange rate (which is roughly US$1 = $10,000,000 Canadian) and the shipping, the prices became pretty hard to swallow. Also, I can’t hear the word “Saddleback” without thinking about the Saddleback Church and, more specifically, Dan Savage’s definition of saddle backing [NSFW].

So then I started thinking – isn’t there anyone local I can buy from? So I googled “leather messenger bag Vancouver” and found Divina Denuevo. They hand-make also sorts of leather products and I want to buy all of them! After checking out the stuff on the website, I made an appointment to drop by their studio (which is conveniently located about a 10 minute walk from my office) to check stuff out in person. (They also sell their products on Etsy, but it’s cheaper if you buy on their website as you don’t have to deal with the US exchange rate or the markup that they have to cover their Etsy listing costs). I decide on the “Canterbury Briefcase Satchel” in “Crazy Horse Brown”, customized it with the pockets I wanted to have, and then patiently waited for two weeks while they made it. And let me tell you, it was well worth the wait!

Divina Denuevo

The photo doesn’t really do it justice – you just have to see it in person!

I am told that I don’t need to do anything to care for it and then the look of it actually gets nicer with use – the leather will get softer and will develop a nice patina.

Divina Denuevo

Anyway, I’m glad to have found this shop – I get a high quality product at what I think is a reasonable price and I get to support a local artisan. And if anyone is in the market for some hand-made leather wares (and/or is looking to buy me a present), it wouldn’t hurt to check out their website!

  1. Or I buy stuff from Beyond the Rack – if you haven’t joined and want to, let me know because if I send you a referral, I get a cool $10. []
  2. Disclaimer: As per usual, I have no relationship with any of the businesses mentioned on here, other than that I give them money in exchange for their products and/or services. []
  3. Or just wearing one of my other elevently billion pairs. []

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I went for a float and it wasn’t of the root beer variety

I-sopod Flotation Tank.jpg

This isn’t the tank that I floated in, but I forgot to take a photo of it when I was there, so I got this picture from Wikipedia to give you the general idea.

My friend Alicia took me for a float for my birthday. For the uninitiated, a float (a.k.a., floatation therapy or sensory deprivation tank) is where you get into a big tank with water that has about 1000 lbs of Epsom salt in it so that you can lie in and, as the name suggests, float. You wear earplugs and you close the lid of the tank so that it’s pitch black. The water and the air are skin temperature, so the idea is that you don’t feel anything. And you just float there – ideally clearing your mind of any thoughts – for 90 minutes. It’s supposed to help you relax and is supposed to be good for stress relief, reducing muscle tension, and all sorts of other things1.

My experience

When we got to the float place, they had me watch a little video on what you need to do. You have to take a shower to make sure you won’t get anything icky in the tank (like hair gel or makeup), then you put in the earplugs, and make sure your face is completely dry. You have to be careful not to get any of the tank water in your eyes because there’s 1000 lbs of Epsom salt in there and omg, that would sting like hell. Then you get in the tank, close the lid, and float! They suggested that you could try different postures – like arms down at your sides, arms up above your head – and that while you didn’t have to worry about your head sinking because of all that Epsom salt in the water, there was a pool noodle that you could put under your neck if it made you feel more comfortable.

When I first stepped in the tank, and before I closed the lid, the thought that sprung into my mind was “This would be a perfect setting for a death in the next Final Destination movie!” But then I thought that visions of the tank rapidly filling up while I panickedly scratched at the door which would inexplicably not open – all with my eyes stinging like a mofo – wouldn’t really lend itself to relaxation, so I dropped the thought.

The actual floating experience was quite interesting. It felt like I was floating in zero gravity (or what I imagine that would feel like, since I’ve never actually floated in zero gravity) and at one point when I tried putting my hands under my head, it actually felt like I was tumbling head over heels2!

Somehow, the time in the tank felt both long and short. My mind was flipping around from thinking about one random thing to another, so I tried using my mindfulness training, which seemed like a logical thing to do on such an occasion. I found that focusing on my breathing was the most effective way to help me clear my mind of thoughts. In the end, I think I fell asleep, as I remember thinking about something and then the next thing I knew it felt like time had passed and I was hearing the music that they play to inform you that your time is up.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I mean, I won’t be getting a membership and going on a regular basis or anything – I think I get better meditation through running and massage is still my preferred method of working out muscle tension – but I’d probably go back for another float again.

Image Credit:

I-sopod Flotation Tank” by FloatguruOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Footnotes:

  1. According to the Wikipedia page – the neutrality of which is disputed because it totally sounds like someone who runs a float tank shop wrote it – research has shown that it also helps improve creativity and performance in a variety of sports. []
  2. Even though I knew I wasn’t because (a) physics, and (b) my face would have gotten wet and I could feel that it wasn’t! []

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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 take the Seabus, 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 for your 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 majority weekdays – 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 as I 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.