Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Politics edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Road Trip

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

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

Jasper, AB

Jasper, AB

Jasper, AB=Jasper, AB

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

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

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

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

    The Cookie Monster - I got to ride him!

    Cookie Monster!

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

    Rosie

    Dudley

    Dudley

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

    Milkshake

    Stripey Cat the kitten at the farm

    Stripey Cat

    Orange kitten at the Farm

    The Orange One

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

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

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

Eau Claire Distillery, Turner Valley, AB

Drinks at Eau Claire Distillery, Turner Valley, AB

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

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

This is how they do police cars in Calgary

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

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

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

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

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

Old Order Distillery

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

The House of Rose Winery, Kelowna, BC

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

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

 

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

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So apparently there’s a provincial election coming up

When I asked “Does anyone even know we are having a provincial election in a few months” in the office lunch room the other day, I was met with one “I know, right?” and a chorus of “We are?” and “Really?” and one “I did not even know we had elections at the provincial level. I thought they were just appointed.” While that last one is an outlier of a response, the responses of surprise seem to be pretty widespread. This is probably because there’s been almost nothing in the news about it and no one seems to be campaigning whatsoever. I have’t seen a single lawn sign or flyer or anything. I mean, it’s not like I want a years long campaign like they have down in the states, but I feel like at 83 days and counting, I should be hearing something happening.

I just did a quick Google search to find out the exact date of the election (to write that last sentence with the number of days left until the election) and found this article about how the opposition party (the NDP) have only nominated 58 candidates for the election that is, did I mention?, only 83 days away.

Ok, now I’ve done more Googling and apparently the election period usually last only 51 days, so the writ won’t be dropped for another 32 days and I guess that means I’m totally jumping the gun on worrying about the fact that no one knows there’s an election coming up. I guess I’ll just have to sit tight for another month and see what happens.

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Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon

So I ran a half marathon last Sunday. And despite it being my second worst finish time of the 14 half marathons that I have run, it turned out to be the one that required the most perseverance and I am actually proud to have finished, yet a bit mad at myself for even having run it. As I mentioned previously, I was suffering from a gluteus medius issue that was so bad it was causing me to limp and it hurt to run. And nothing I was doing was working – it was like it was too tight to even get it to stretch at all, no matter how much I tried. Then I went out for dinner with my friend Linda and she told me about a physiotherapy treatment called intramuscular stimulation (or dry needling1.). This technique uses acupuncture needles, but instead of poking the needles into things that have never been scientifically demonstrated to exist, they insert them into tight bits of muscle. It seems like the idea is that your muscle is confused and thinks it should be shortened into this tight piece of agony and isn’t getting your message to just chill the fuck out already, so you poke it to sort of reboot the system.

Have you tried turning my muscle off and then turning it back on again?2

I did a (very) quick look at the research literature and, unlike acupuncture which has definitely been shown not be any better than a placebo, there really isn’t much research on IMS to know if it’s effective or not (at least as far as I can tell from my quick look). So I figured that it at least has some biological plausibility and I was desperate, because I knew I couldn’t run the race if something didn’t give. So I decided to try it as a Hail Mary pass.

It’s a very interesting sensation to have someone poke a needle in your muscle. It doesn’t hurt, but it feels… unusual. Also, when I told the physio that I wanted to be able to run a half marathon in 3 days, he decided to do electrical stimulation with the needling. So in addition to stabbing the muscles, he also electrocuted them. That felt in some cases like he was just flicking my leg and at other times it just made the muscles twitch repeatedly. Oh yeah, and a lot more muscles were messed up than just the glut med. The TFL ((a.k.a., Tensor Fascia Latae.)) was solid like a rock (which my massage therapist had also noted) and the quads and hamstrings were too. So he stabbed and electrocuted a whole bunch of parts of all of those muscles.

After the treatment, I could immediately stretch my hip more than before the treatment3 and it continued to loosen up a bit more each day. Could it have been a placebo effect? Entirely possible. Would it have loosened up in those days even if I hadn’t had the IMS. Maybe they would have, been there’s no way to know!

The physiotherapist’s advice was to try a little 1-2 km jog on the Saturday and see if it was loose enough to run. So we made our way to Kelowna on Saturday and then I went for a 2km jog, which I was able to do, but with a shooting pain with every step. It would get a teensy bit better, but if I stopped, say, to catch a Pokémon, when I restarted, it would hurt as much as the start of the run. What to do? What to do? I was of two minds: the one that said “Maybe it just needs a bit more jogging to loosen it up4. If it loosens up as much over tonight as it has the last few days, I’ll be fine. What if that happens and I don’t do the race – I’ll be walking around all fine and then I’ll want to kick myself! I can’t miss another race this year!” And then the other one that said, “What if you injure yourself more by running on this injury? That’s how you got this injury – running on the not fully healed sprained ankle! Do you really want to jeopardize your upcoming trip to Australia? The race fee is a sunk cost!” So Andrew made me an offer – I’d  start the race and if after 5km, I’m still in pain, I could call him and he’d come and pick me up. So that’s what I did.

Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon route 2016

Long story short: my hip was considerably looser the next day and combined with the race day adrenaline, the first 15 km were slower than I’d usually run a race, but faster than I’d expected given the circumstances. My hip didn’t hurt, it was more just uncomfortable. As I passed the 15 km marker, I thought “I’m glad I did this, I’m going to finish much sooner than I thought, maybe I should text Andrew to let him know as he might not go to the finish line in time to see me” and no sooner did I think that than a pain shoot through my hip – pain that would continue to shoot on every step of the remaining 6 km. Every volunteer I passed gave me a look of genuine sympathy and a kind encouraging word that I could do this. As I crossed the finish line, I was glad I was wearing sunglasses because maybe that would make the tears of pain streaming down my face less noticeable.

Kelowna half marathon 2016 - finish line 2

Me at the finish line. You can see the pain on my face.

Some thoughts on the race itself:

  • The route itself was gorgeous – it officially replaces Victoria as the most beautiful race route I’ve run. It started in the Vibrant Vine vineyard, ran through some wine country and farm lands, down a giant hill, through some neighbourhoods, and finished up in a park by the lake, where a wine festival awaited. I’d really like to run this race again when I’m not injured so I can more fully appreciate it.
Kelowna half marathon 2016 - actually smiling

This is me at some point before the 15 km mark, where I was only in mild discomfort. Or as I call it now “the good ole days”.

  • While the race as beautiful, the logistics weren’t the best thought out. For example, the website mentioned nothing about a shuttle bus taking runners to the start line, so we expected Andrew to be able to drop me off there, but then out of the blue the road was closed and they said I had to go wait for a shuttle bus. Since people weren’t expecting this, they didn’t allot time for it and they had to delay the race start to allow for more people to arrive on the shuttles. Even with that, I heard that some people didn’t get to the start line until after the race started because they had to wait for the bus they didn’t know they’d have to take.
  • Another example of poor planning was that the place to pick up your gear that you’d checked and your wine glass that was required for the wine festival tastings was at the very end of the festival compound, which meant you had to walk all the way to far end to pick up your stuff and then all the way back to the entrance to the festival to go to wine tastings. This was particularly bad for me since I was in a lot of pain and walking was not something I was wanting to do at that particular time.
  • It was different to run a race at the back of the pack. I mean, I’m not a top finisher by any stretch, but I’m used to being in the top half to the top quarter. Being at a slower pace meant I did have more time to look around and enjoy the scenery – though I guess that part of that was also the I chose to do that to try to distract myself from the pain.
  • I also had more time and attention to think about things. Who were my fellow runners? For how many of them was this their first half? Their 50th? Who else was running hurt, pushing through despite the pain? I thought about the saying that you should “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” What battles were my fellow runners fighting, physically or psychologically, that you just can’t see from the outside? What motivated them to run today? And conversely, who was having the best race of their life? And who else was in this for the wine?
  • I also thought about my dad. I find I do that often when I’m running, because I know he was a runner before I was born. Also, my dad was very stubborn and I was being stubborn too, by running this race.
  • The race medal was awesome. When I first saw it, I didn’t clue into what it was and just thought “It’s huge!” But it turns about that it’s a coaster for your wine! It’s easily detachable from the ribbon so you can actually use it! Though I’m sure I’ll just hang it on the wall with my collection5

    Untitled

    I do love a good race medal.

I’ve spent the past week since the race limping around – I saw the physio on Wednesday and he said I have acute bursitis and maybe acute tendinitis – and I saw the massage therapist today. I had to skip my hockey game today because I can barely walk, let alone skate. Here’s hoping the 16 hours of flying I have coming up on Wednesday doesn’t kill me!

The one silver lining – well, in addition to the awesome race medal and all the wine – was that I finally caught the damn Mankey that had been eluding me in Pokémon Go. Mankey isn’t that rare of a Pokémon – I just could never seem to catch one, until now ((Of course, once I caught one, I ended up catching a few. Now I just need to keep catching them so that I can evolve one into a Primeape!)!

Untitled

  1. As opposed to “wet needling”, i.e., injecting you with stuff []
  2. Props to Kalev for coming up with this line in a convo we were having yesterday []
  3. By which I mean to say – I could then stretch it more than 1 mm. []
  4. I had some bad shin splints earlier this year that took about 5 km of jogging before they disappeared, so this wouldn’t have been unprecedented. []
  5. Speaking of which, my medal rack is too full – I need a new one. But I don’t have time to deal with that right now, so that is after-Australia Beth’s problem. []

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Long weekend report

The long weekend festivities started on Thursday with the world’s easiest Easter egg hunt at my office:

World's Easiest Easter Egg Hunt At My Office

World's easiest Easter egg hunt

The office Easter bunnies left lots of treats for everyone and they certainly didn’t make them hard to find!

Then on Friday I headed over to Salt Spring Island. It was my first time going to any of the Gulf Islands and it did not disappoint. Here are just a few of the lovely views I saw:

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

There was also time for a tasting at the Salt Spring Island Brewery:

Salt Spring Island Brewery

And then on the ferry ride home there was a double rainbow!

Double rainbow as seen from the Victoria to Vancouver ferry

I wasn’t the only one taking photos of it:
People taking photos of the double rainbox

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Whistler!

“Ski at Whistler” was on my very first list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, which I wrote in the old timey days of 2009. Somehow, I went through those 1001 days without managing to ski at Whistler. Then I totally thought I put “Ski at Whistler” on my second list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, but now that I look at it, I totally didn’t. At any rate, I managed to go through those 1001 days without skiing at Whistler either. Thinking that “third time’s the charm” (because, as you may recall from earlier in this paragraph, I thought I’d put it on my second list), I put it on my third list. Happily, Daniel perused my third list and got me a pair of Whistler lift tickets for Christmas! And then, capitalizing on the momentum, we decided to book a couple of days there to make a nice little trip out of it1. Which brings us to Tuesday, January 21st, the day that I finally skied at Whistler2.

We spent the morning skiing on Blackcomb Mountain. For the uninitiated, Blackcomb Mountain is right next to Whistler Mountain (you’ll often here the whole place referred to as Whistler-Blackcomb) and both can be accessed from Whistler Village, which is where we were staying. Pretty awesome to just walk out of your hotel with your skis and right onto a couple of gondolas that take you up two spectacular mountains. The conditions were fantastic – apparently they had just got a big dump of snow on the weekend, but by the time we were there on Tuesday, it was nothing but sunny skies on the hills.

On Blackcomb Mountain

On Blackcomb Mountain

We skied all morning, had an overpriced lunch (they really have you captive up there when it comes time for eating) and a chance to warm up (it was -7 degrees up there!), then skied a bit more on Blackcomb, and then headed over to the Peak-to-Peak. For the uninitiated, the Peak-to-Peak is a gondola that connects the top of Blackcomb Mountain with the top of Whistler Mountain so that you can easily ski on both mountains on the same day3. Given that taking the Peak-to-Peak is also on my 101 list and given that it was “ski at Whistler” on my list rather than “ski at Whistler-Blackcomb” and I didn’t want to be called out on a technicality, doing this ensured that those two items could be definitively crossed off my list.

On the Peak-to-Peak Gondola

Daniel and I on the Peak to Peak

The conditions on Whistler were equally spectacular and we enjoyed the rest of our afternoon of skiing there. I was surprised to learn that the lifts stop running at 3 pm as there are no lights on the mountains and since it takes half an hour to ski down from the top of the mountain back to the village, they stop the lifts that early so everyone gets off the hills before nightfall. As someone who took skiing lessons at night in my youth, it didn’t even occur to me that there would be no night skiing! We took our last ride up the lift around 3 pm and it took nearly a half an hour to ski all the way back down to the Village. After a day of skiing, a dip in the hotel hot tub, watching the Canucks game, and having a nice dinner a pub in the Village rounded out a perfect day.

Something not so nice happened at our hotel, but we didn’t hear about it until we got back to Vancouver. Apparently on Tuesday morning, someone died in after an altercation in the east wing (we were staying in the west wing). There was a cop car out in front of our hotel on Tuesday morning when we went out to go skiing4 and Daniel commented on it still being there when we came back at the end of the day, but we really didn’t think too much about it. But it wasn’t until we got home on Wednesday that we found out why. Apparently this is only the third homicide in the history of Whistler!

Anyway, despite that unusual circumstance, we had a great trip and I definitely want to go back again!

  1. And then he got us a nice hotel room to stay in for my birthday. I’m so spoiled! []
  2. For the record, from the time I moved to Vancouver until the day I finally actually went skiing at Whistler was a mind-boggling 5,254 days! The first many years of that I blame the fact that I was a starving PhD student, and then there were several years of being a starving student-loan-paying-off-er, and then I was just lazy for a bit, and then there were two years of being a (non-starving) full time worker + MBA student who had no time to do anything. And then I was lazy again for a year and then Daniel came to the rescue. []
  3. You may have heard of the Peak to Peak when some guy forced open the gondola door and base jumped out. Which, of course, is totally illegal. And then he posted the video on Youtube, showing both his own face and that of his accomplice. []
  4. If you click on the link to the news story, you’ll see that cop car in the photo. []

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Did You Vote Today?

So it’s municipal election day in British Columbia, the day we get to vote for mayors, city councillors, and school board trustees. And given that I know jack squat about Surrey politics, I decided I should read the candidate statements before I headed off to the polls.  First of all, there about about eleventy billion people running for council, so it took me ages to get through the statements. Secondly, it’s pretty challenging to figure out what everyone is really about from these short statements, especially when so many people, just spew off platitudes. Of course everyone wants to make the city a safer place with good schools, nice parks, better roads, better transit, businesses that succeed, and unicorns covered in pixie dust. But how, exactly, they are going to do that is never mentioned. Is it so much to ask to see some concrete ideas?

What’s particularly galling are the candidates who are making claims they will provide all sorts of things – new stadiums, new schools, new hospitals, more Skytrain, better pay for municipal employees, more teachers in schools, etc., etc. AND no increases in taxes. I mean, seriously, do these individuals have no idea how a government works? Governments get money from taxes. Buying things costs money. It’s not rocket science, people.

And finally, what’s the deal with political parties calling themselves “non-partisan”? Our good friend Wikipedia tells us:

In politics, partisan literally means organized into political parties. The expression “partisan politics” usually refers to fervent, sometimes militant, support of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.

Presumably these so-called non-partisan parties are trying to distance themselves from the of “fervent, sometimes militant,” connotation of the word, but technically they are saying that they are a political party that is not a political party. Am I the one one who finds this ridiculous?

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BC Premier #30: Glen Clark

Hey, remember a million zillion years ago when I was working on a series of postings about BC Premiers, posting about one premier each Sunday? Yeah, apparently neither did I. But with the convergence of needing to come up with a new blog posting topic every day this month AND the big news of Gordon Campbell quitting this week1, I thought it was high time to resurrect, yet again, this series that I seem to keep letting fall off my plate.  I only have four premiers left (until the BC So-Called Liberals pick a replacement for Gordo), so surely I can keep this up for the next four Sundays, right?

OK, so when we last left off in our series, Premier Mike Harcourt had resigned the position. Enter Glen Clark, the 30th Premier of the Province of British Columbia.

Name Glen David Clark
Born: November 22, 1957 in Nanaimo, BC2
Died: hasn’t
Party: NDP
Held Office: February 22, 1996 – August 25, 1999
  • Glen Clark is a controversial guy, as evidenced by the fact that his Wikipedia page is a mess of “this page’s neutrality is disputed” and “you need actual sources to back up this shit, yo.” And since I’m far too lazy to do any real research, take anything I write here with a giant grain of sodium chloride.
  • 1986: elected to the BC Legislature
  • served as Finance Minister under Premier Mike Harcourt and when Harcourt resigned in 1996, Clark was elected by the NDP to succeed him
  • 1996: Clark won an NDP majority government, did stuff like keeping tuitions fees frozen and something about Vancouver Island and Skytrain
  • And since BC politics loves scandals, there were two “scandals” during Clark’s reign:
    • The “Fast Ferries” – some new, faster ferries were built for BC ferries, but they cost way more than expected, took longer than they were supposed to and never quite went as fast as they were supposed to3.
    • “Casinogate” – Glen Clark’s house and officer were searched by the RCMP in 1999 in relation to accusations that Clark had accepted $10,000 worth of renos in exchange for granting a casino license. He was charged with “breach of trust,” a criminal offence, but in the end was not found guilty. Essentially, the judge said that he’d done something stupid, but not done anything criminal.
  • Clark resigned as premier in 1999 in light of the “Casinogate” scandal.
  • currently works as an “Executive Vice President” for the Jim Pattison Group and president of The News Group North America.”

In summary, Glen Clark did some stuff and then people got mad at him and then he quit.

References:

Footnotes:

  1. for his mug shot when he got arrested for driving drunk in Hawaii, click here []
  2. Nanaimo a.k.a., “Surrey by the Sea,” and the home of the deliciousness that is the Nanaimo Bar []
  3. if memory serves, they went fast, but then it took a long time to dock them because they didn’t quite match up with the docks correctly, so after all the time and money spent on the new ferries, your ferry trip wasn’t any shorter than it was with the old ferries []

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BC Premier #29: Mike Harcourt

Premier of the Province of British Columbia.

Mike Harcourt at City Making in Paradise Name Michael Franklin Harcourt
Born: January 6, 1943 in Edmonton, AB
Died: hasn’t
Party: NDP
Held Office: Nov 5, 1991 to Feb 22, 1996
  • earned B.A. and Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • 1973-1980: served as Vancouver alderman
  • 1980-1986: served as mayor Vancouver
    • major focus of his term as mayor was prep for Expo ’86
  • 1986: elected to BC provincial legislature
  • 1987: became the leader of NDP, and thus, the Leader of the Official Opposition
  • 1991: became premier by defeating then-Premier Rita Johnson in the provincial election
  • Feb 1996: resigned due to the “Bingogate” scandal (where an NDP party member used money raised for charity to fund the NDP. Though Harcourt wasn’t himself involved, he did the captain going done with the ship thing)
  • Nov 2002: suffered a spinal cord injury in a near-fatal accident at his cottage. Made a remarkable recovery.
  • Dec 2003: appointed special adviser on cities to then-Prime Minister Paul Martin
  • Nov 2007: awarded an Honourary Doctorate from UBC
  • has published three books:
    • A Measure of Defiance (1996)
    • Plan B: One Man’s Journey from Tragedy to Triumph (2003)
    • City Making in Paradise (2007)
  • Feb 2009: Appointed Associate Director of the UBC Continuing Studies Centre for Sustainability,

In summary, in my extensive research1, I was not able to any reference to anything that he actually did as Premier.  I’m gathering, based on the stuff he’s doing now, that he did something good for cities and sustainability, but I’ll be damned if I can find any information on what he actually did2


Image credits: Photo of Mike Harcourt at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre on June 14, 2007 posted by Richard Eriksson on Flickr.

References:

Footnotes:

  1. i.e., two minutes of Googling []
  2. I mean beyond his National Speaker’s Bureau bio, which says, “focus on conservation and sustainable development – and his resolve to contribute to the transformation of cities and communities around the world” – i.e., doesn’t actually say anything. []

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BC Premier #28: Rita Johnston

The 28th Premier of the Province of British Columbia and the first female one ever!

insert pic Name Rita Margaret Johnston
Born: April 22, 1935 in Melville, Saskatchewan
Died: hasn’t
Party: Social Credit
Held Office: April 2, 1991 – November 5, 1991
  • the first – and so far, only – female premier of BC
  • before getting into politics – and I’m not making this up – she ran a Surrey trailer park.  Actually, according to Wikipedia she ran a “successful trailer park.”  I’m curious as to what criteria are used to judge whether or not a trailer park is “successful”
  • 1969: elected to Surrey city council where she served under then-mayor (and future premier) Bill Vander Zalm
  • 1975: lost election for Surrey mayorship by fewer than 100 votes
  • 1983: elected as the MLA for Surrey
  • 1986: served in cabinet, yet again under the Zalm, in the following positions:
    • 1986: Minister of Municipal Affairs
    • 1986-88: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Transit
    • 1987-88: Minister of State for the Kootenay Region
    • 1988-89: Minister of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture
    • 1989-91: Minister of Transportation and Highways
  • 1990: appointed deputy premier by the Vander Slam
  • April 2, 1991: upon Billy VZ‘s resignation, she was named acting leader of the SoCreds – and thus acting premier of BC, making her not only the first female premier in BC history, but the first *Canadian* premier.  In 1991.  Seriously.
  • July 1991: elected leader of SoCred at the party convention, beating Grace McCarthy, who was expected to win
  • Oct 1991: the SoCreds lost the election to the NDP and Johnston lost her own seat; this loss was attributed to Vander Zalm‘s scandals and the split within the party due to the leadership race (with insufficient time to repair this between the party convention in July and the provincial election in October)
  • Jan 1992: she resigned as party leader on my birthday in 1992, retired from politics, keeps a low profile

In summary, I can’t believe there had never been a female premier in Canada before 1991!

References:
Wikipedia, the reference of champions
Library and Archives Canada.