John Oliver says goodbye to a terrible year

Well, in the words of John Oliver, Fuck 2016. This has truly been a terrible year, I think this video summarises the feeling of many people this year.

Trump wins…

Honestly, I don’t know how this happened. I mean I do, but it can’t be real. Mostly I am just glad that I live in Canada and for the time being things are ok. We have a decent Prime minister and he has managed to go one year without majorly screwing up the country.

This just proves that targeting the lowest common denominator can win you an election. This election has been dragged out around the world for more than a year and while this time last year it was still funny to think of trump as president, the reality of this actually happening is grim. Although it’s great to be in Canada and not in the direct line of fire, I am almost certain that we will feel the pain in some way or another. I feel like we are standing on a corner as a car drives past splashing mucky water at the American in front of us while flecks of mud manage to keep going and hit us in the head as well. What really worries me is that the last 8 years of change that the US has seen is about to get almost entirely flushed down the toilet by a misogynistic bigot who has no moral compass whatsoever and Hillary Clinton did not fight hard enough to keep him from doing it. I watched some of the debates that happened and I can see why things went this way, how do you debate with someone who refuses to let you speak? Or a person who will continue to point fingers in the same way a 9-year-old would if they felt they didn’t get their way. I mean really, this is a grown man with grown up (and equally ridiculous) children, how is this acceptable in any circumstance? Let me just suspend disbelief for the moment though and consider what led to this moment.

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Is it sad that the Simpsons predicted this?

From a Canadian standpoint, I would say it comes down to a few key areas. Timing, Economics, Fear mongering, and in the words of Danny Bhoy “the rise of the idiots”. When Obama came into office in 2008 he was taking on a monstrous task involving the general cleanup of the shitshow that was Bush. That combined with the economic recession around the same time leading to a poorer and more disillusioned America. That is no shocker and Obama continued to go on to be reelected four years ago, which is great, he would get a real chance to improve things. But then along came Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump of all people. Both intent on winning, both somewhat unlikeable, but there is a clear difference between the two. Trump should never have made it this far, he trashed the Republican party, he abused democracy and he pushed the limit on what is socially acceptable adult behaviour. And yet, here we are Wednesday, November 9th,2016 a world reeling at the realisation that somehow he got elected.

But hey 2016 has been a ridiculous year for politics. Brexit happened! Yes, it did, and we were in shock. Even those guys who wanted it were shocked when it happened and quickly started to back off as reality set in. A huge part of me hopes Trump faces the same thing sometime in February, and that he sort of disappears from the public eye as he begins to realise that the US does not have a big enough budget for the wall he wants to build. I look forward to some kind of scandal while he is in office, I relish the hope that he will be found guilty of something completely unheard of and awful.

Keep this in mind because it just happened:

“The next wave of fascism will come not with cattle cars and camps. It will come with a friendly face.” – Bertram Gross, “Friendly Fascism”

 

 

Bus entertainment 

Like thousands of others I take the bus to work, and like almost everyone I can agree that it is not without its own version of entertainment. I don’t mean watching things through the window, I mean the things people do on the bus. The bus I take is compared to other routes a generally tame one, in the morning it’s more of a library than a bus, but occasionally human nature explodes. However, my fiancé used to take the bus through east Hastings almost every day and that is a bus that almost lives and breathes. We joke that it’s sometimes like going on safari, that’s if the safari were to sit next to you and start rambling. 

East Hastings buses, for those who know Vancouver that’s the 16, 14, 135 and others. 

My younger cousin is a country guy, with impeccable luck and an adventurers sense of direction. He visited Vancouver for the first time   a couple years ago and came spent nearly two hours and three busses to get to my house. Part of me was concerned, I mean it’s a long way in a city he doesn’t know, but in the back of my mind I kept saying “it’s ok he spent his 21st birthday on a boat on the Amazon, he will be fine” obviously he was fine, nonetheless he described it as a trek. Especially bussing through East Hastings at 2 in the morning. I have to agree, there are places in poorer countries than Canada that have at least marginally better transit. Problem here seems to be that we pay Translink staff more than the Primeminister and then expect them to work hard. But anyways I digress. Not my story though so I’ll leave it at that for now. Catch you next week. 

A paperless conference for Luddites

It’s Wednesday. Generally the dullest day at work, usually my catch-up day. For whatever reason no one seems to schedule meetings for Wednesday, works for me. After a month of chaos and preparation for our annual conference it’s over and I think I’ve almost made up for the lack of sleep over the long weekend. I feel human again, and it’s a beautiful sunny fall day. I love this weather, crisp and bright. Sweaters and scarves, toques and sunglasses. I’m ready! 

Last week was the conference, months in the making and honestly a momentous one for us. We went paperless, which sounds simple enough. But who knew people liked name tags so much. It was particularly different this year because we launched an event app and mobile check in. So, no program, no name tags and an app to learn. For me this sounds pretty simple but the demographic at this conference tends to err on the side of the Luddites at times. I believe I may even have seen a flip phone, to each his own. 

In spite of that, we had almost 75% of people using the app. It also even helped get more involvement for question segments. This is even better than I imagined, the app is here to stay. 

Here’s to next year! Hopefully it’s even better ( might have to bring back name tags). 

Travels

Summer always seems to rush by, in spite of sleepy deadlines and a quiet office, it just disappears. We recently came back from our two week vacation (for the first time in over two years) and were thankfully not too bombarded by crazy at work. Even so, the first week back is rough.

You get used to living on a vacation timetable, and to getting up when you feel like it (even if it just as early as your alarm for work). Somehow its different though when that alarm goes and you have to get up. On Monday, I noticed just how slowly I am capable of getting ready, how I manage to find one more thing I should try to fit in before I catch my bus, just one more, one more, and before I know it I’m 30 minutes late. Luckily,  my work is OK with this and I can mostly decide when I want to come into work. But still.

Back to vacation, it was beautiful. We drove across the province and into Alberta, visiting family, friends and finally taking the last few days to enjoy the wine country of the Okanagan Valley. My family had always driven through BC in summer so knew the route to a certain point, driving it though, is a whole other thing. As someone who doesn’t drive much it was a good test.

Part of me is still in shock that there are only a couple weeks left until summer ends and things around the office get back to being busy as we prepare for the next big conference. But hey, savour it while it lasts.

Balfour Ferry
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Alberta Driving
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Frank Slide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then the sun came out….

….and tricked us into a false sense of “Spring”, but I guess that’s our own fault forgetting how unpredictable April is.

So, I few weeks ago I planted veggies and some more a couple weeks after. Low and behold they came up at virtually the same time, because we suddenly had a heatwave. That’s beside the point, my plant babies are pretty cute right now, I can only hope  they actually produce something.

Lettuce, Mustard Green, Rainbow Swiss and Kale in the far pot, a week ago

 

There is a bit of a background story on this, so we live in a North East facing suite, which means not much sun. Which sucks for me since I really love having a garden, so I have gotten quite creative with this little space. Initially though I wanted to get a plot in the community garden, which at the time had a wait list of 50 people. That was a year ago and I stupidly didn’t put my name on it until now; now that list is 140. At the rate they currently have for turnover that means I might wait 5 years. So, clever me I thought maybe the landlady would let me plant some sunny plants on the South side of the building (where there is an amazing space). Unfortunately, the property management company that owns the building is particularly irritating to deal with and she had to say no. Mainly because she is tired of dealing with their antics, I mean these guys hardly do the minimum for longtime tenants, they only care about the renovated suites since they are charging sometimes twice as much rent for them. I know why they do it, I mean from a financial point of view it makes sense, from a human point, not really. Our building isn’t new, and those “new” suites aren’t actually better, they just look pretty. But they still have the same old balconys, the same single pane windows and the same weird heating system. Greed, that’s all it is.

 But my plant babies are ok and I might at least get a delicious salad out of the many greens that will definitely thrive. As for the building, I’m working on that. Any dealings I’ve had with the property management company have been bad and all I can do is feel for my landlady and all the crap she puts up with. One final note on the weather, that heatwave ended pretty quickly and it got a whole lot colder ( but then 24 in April is  record) and rainier. The plants don’t seem to mind too much though.

Spring weather

I’m on the ferry now, coming back from a long weekend with the family. Seems as good a time as any to write. We’ll see if anyone actually reads it. Anyway, the ride is beautiful today I’m actually too hot and worried I might have a sunburn on the tops of my feet (there’s something that’s been off the radar for months).

 It’s always wonderful at the farm, my sisters ‘ kids are such fun and I love the forest and quiet for a weekend. So it’s always a little sad when I have to got back to busy city life. Even the ferry seems a nice reprieve when the weather is nice enough to be outside. This weekend it dawned on me that I really should start planning our wedding, my family like to know what’s going on and my vagueness seemed to bug them. I’m a generalist so I have an overarching n idea but no details ( who can blame me though the wedding isn’t for more than another year). Society says I should already have it halfway planned, it just seems so far away right now I don’t have that sense of urgency yet that gets things moving. It will come, and then my efficiency will show. Not til next year though. I’m really not willing to spend crazy amount of money or stress on a wedding when so many other things that come after that day will be just as exciting as getting married. Travel, new house, babies, career changes. This is one piece of the puzzle, a big one, but not one we want to be paying for for years.

So back to the farm. My sister and her husband live in a beautiful piece of land in the Comox valley, they are a couple years away from opening their Blueberry farm. For now you can get just eggs and veg from them until the blueberries are bigger and have more fruit. I think they have a really wonderful future there, with three kids who will grow up with a love of the land and an appreciation of the energy that goes into making it. I can only hope to have the ability to empart that with my own children one day. Hopefully they will live going to the farm as much as I did as a kid. The mud pies and forts and cousins running around. I’m a bit slow on the uptake of the kids aspect but that’s ok.