Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Polar Bear Swim 2011!


Polar Bear Swim 2011 - 01

Me, with a cup of tea, preparing to go for a very cold swim!


So one of the things on my 101 things to do in 1001 days list was to do the Polar Bear Swim. For the uninitiated, The Polar Bear Swim is where you go for a chilly swim in the ocean (or a lake or some other outdoor body of water) on New Year’s Day1. The Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver is held in English Bay and has been going since 1920!

Since my 1001 days are up in October, today was my last chance to knock this item off of my list. And knock it off the list I did!

I originally got the idea to do the swim earlier in the year and when I tweeted about it, my friend Krista said she’d swim with me. In the ensuing months, however, Krista became preggers and so offered up her husband to join me in her place. Unfortunately, the two of them came down with the flu this week, so jumping into freezing cold water was out of the question for Ryan! I saw on Twitter that my friend Lianna was planning to do the swim, so I arranged to swim with her, but then she emailed me this morning to say she was too hungover! Not one to be discouraged by such things, I decided that I’d just swim by myself2! And it wasn’t like I was totally by myself – there were thousands of people there and I had my “support team” of Kalev and Craig!

As for the swim itself, despite the fact that it was really cold today, the water wasn’t *that* bad. This was probably because I was in excruciating pain from standing on the very, very cold sand in my bare feet! Like so-cold-it-feels-like-your feet-are-being-stabbed-with-a-thousand-knives cold. Running into the water was a bit of a relief, to be quite honest!

I decided beforehand that I was going to go into the water up to my neck, but not dunk my head. Because having wet hair when it’s only 2 degrees out seemed like a terrible idea. I mean, even more terrible than the idea of going into the ocean when it’s only 2 degrees out. I ended up chatting with some other folks who were nearby and ran into the water with them, but as soon as I got up to my neck in water, I ran back out as quickly as I could!

Here’s a pic of me after the swim, running back to Kalev yelling “Towel! Towel! Towel!!!”

Polar Bear Swim 2011 - 06

And here’s a much better pic of me, wrapped up in my towel and showing off the button that you get for doing the Swim!

Polar Bear Swim 2011 - 07

Fortunately, Craig lives in the West End, and Kalev and I had stayed at Craig’s after his New Year’s Eve party last night, so it wasn’t too far to go from the swim to jump in a nice a hot shower! Craig has a super swanky shower, with TWO shower heads, so that totally made me feel better despite the fact that my nearly frostbitten feet were burning in the hot shower water.

When I decided to do the swim, I thought “this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.” Like the kind of thing where I can say I’ve done it. But now that I’ve done it, I’m thinking I could see myself doing it again next year!

Note: Photos by Kalev

  1. I just looked at the Wikipedia page on the Polar Bear Swim and apparently doing it on New Year’s Day is a Canadian thing. For Americans, Polar Bear Swims are fundraisers that aren’t associated with New Year’s []
  2. Steven tweeted that he was doing the swim too, but by that point I was at the beach and saw how insanely crowded it was and knew there was no way I’d be able to find anyone in that crowd []

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Bunch of Random Stuff

Here’s a bunch of random stuff that each aren’t long enough to make a blog posting on their own, but collectively make up a bunch of random stuff.

  • Some very cool people are getting honourary doctorates at UBC1 this year, including satirist Rick Mercer, author Douglas Coupland, and astronaut Julie Payette. Also getting a UBC HonDoc is the person with the worst French language skills on the planet, John Furlong2.  One name on the list that really caught my eye was Dr. Nora Volkow – she’s the Director of the US National Institute of Drug Addiction3. You can see her in this HBO documentary on addiction, where she does an amazing job explaining the science of addiction. Her work as a neuroscientist has gone a long way to show that addiction involves a pathophysiology of the brain – so addiction isn’t about strength of will or moral character, it’s a disease.
  • Here’s some interesting information about how larger plates are making us fatter.  I’ve read quite a few studies recently on how portion sizes have increased over the years – both at restaurants and at homes.  Further, studies show that bigger portion size actually results in people taking bigger bites of food.
  • I have a date for the Polar Bear Swim on January 1, 2011.  My friend Krista has agreed to join me!  And, as she says, we’ve said it on the intertubes, so now we *have* to do it!
  • For some unknown reason, WordPress has stopped emailing me comments that are made on my blog. I have it set up to do so, as seen here, but I don’t get emails.  So if I’m slower at replying to comments than I used to be, blame WordPress.  I’m innocent.
  • Today, my friend Dr. Jen officially became Dr. Jen.  Technically, you aren’t allowed to use the PhD behind your name, or call yourself “Dr.,” until after your convocation4. Even though once you’ve handed the final copy of your thesis into the Faculty of Graduate Studies, you’ve done all you need to do. But until the degree is actually granted on convocation day, you technically don’t have it.  Not like that stops anyone from calling themselves “Dr.” right from the moment the committee at the defence says “I’m pleased to inform you…” though. Congratulations, Dr. Jen!!
  1. I hope to get an HonDoc some day. Because I have a fascination with collecting letters to put behind my name. []
  2. seriously, I have better French than that guys AND I DON’T EVEN SPEAK FRENCH []
  3. an aside: I was just perusing Dr. Volkow’s Wikipedia page and apparently she’s the great granddaughter of Trotsky! []
  4. same is technically true of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, but since you don’t change your honorific with those degrees, it’s not such a big deal []