Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Past Week

I've kind of been slacking on the blogging the past week, so here's the recap.


A few friends and the boyfriend and I headed to Gastown on Friday night for the "Make Music" festival. It's pretty much an event open to anyone who wants to sign up. We got there at the wrong time though, apparently, because as we walked from tent to tent each performer finished a song and then packed up. Luckily, on the way back, the performers decided to do more than one song. We heard a drum circle, rapping, folk, DJing, contemporary, jazz and more! Gastown was also a really cool neighbourhood . . . although I don't know if I would want to go down Blood Alley. We also saw the famous clock (which I failed to get a picture of). It even had a souvenir shop at one point, but it looked like it had closed down.


My boyfriend was running a half marathon, so I got up early to go and meet him at the finish line. The half marathon also happened to go down the street below me, on the way from UBC to Stanley Park, so I was able to watch the runners as I walked to the bus and then got to follow beside them as we crossed the bridge. At the bus stop I got off at there was a community garden. I thought it was so cool that it was just there, in the middle of downtown Vancouver. Finally, I made it down to the park, where I encountered these laughing statues, perfect for me since I love to laugh! Called A-mazing Laughter, by Yue Minjun, they were designed for the Olympics in 2010 and were supposed to be temporary, but the owner of Lululemon liked them so much, that he contributed to the cost of keeping them there permanently. As for the race, unfortunately, I left the finish line before my boyfriend crossed it because I thought he had passed without me noticing. Next time we need to coordinate what each other is wearing before we go, so we know what to look for!


I was "voluntold" (my manager's new favourite word) that I would be working at the company golf tournament, which is run for airport employees and contractors every year and coordinated by the director of engineering. I had a "Lauren Conrad" moment because it seemed like such an intern thing to do. (It also meant that I thought about The Hills and have started watching season one again, oops.) I started with unloading all of the door prizes from the van, later helped organize and label all of the prizes and finally, ended up tallying gold scores until halfway through dinner. However, I was wearing awesome floral pants that I was complimented on multiple times, so that was certainly a plus. I didn't make it home until 9:00 pm and was up bright and early for work the next day.


Yes, I know, it isn't Friday yet. I do know what's going to happen though. I was supposed to get a half day off because of the working late on Tuesday, but a check-in conveyor I'm working on needs to be up an running for the long weekend. Of course, the project is behind schedule, so I need to be there all day tomorrow in case "unforeseen events" occur. Lucky me! The good news: if you happen to be at the airport and flying domestic, you might be able to use my lovely new conveyor. Yay.

Fortunately, this weekend is a long one. I'm excited to see fireworks and do some exploring . . . as well as relaxing. I'm actually really excited for fireworks because they didn't have any here for the May long weekend. Apparently, that's not a thing out here, like it is back in Ontario.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This Week In My Stomach

It turns out that working at the airport doesn't just mean that people from all over the world are travelling through it. It also means that I work with people from all sorts of different places. My manager is from Ireland, along with another engineer in my trailer (obviously different parts though, based on the fact that their accents sound NOTHING alike). The engineer that sits across from me is from New Zealand, along with the contractor I am working with on the drop-belt for the check-in. Some of the other contractors are from the UK and the Netherlands. Of course, there's also people from Ontario. Three of the engineers went to schools near Guelph (and by that, I mean they actually know what Guelph is)! Another one of the contractors is from Niagara Falls. It's really interesting to work with people from all over the place, but that's not the best part. It also means that I get some tasty snacks at work that I normally wouldn't pick up myself. This week has been particularly full of treats: a chocolate bar from the UK, pocky sticks and a cookie that tasted like cotton candy, but was apparently healthy!

I also got yet another free lunch (I think I've literally had a free lunch every week since I started!), but this time it was because of our new president and CEO. He also came around to visit us in the trailers yesterday and my manager decided to tell him how I wrote a letter asking the airport for a job. He also mentioned that they thought my pushiness was why they thought it would be good to hire me. Excellent.

I also got a surprise walking to the train today. I was walking on the sidewalk up to the terminal, huddled under my umbrella because it's been quite the rainy day today when I realized that something was in my path. I managed to snap a picture of this guy before he flew off!

I think it was a heron, but my brother can probably confirm that for me. It turns out that there's even a job for him here at the airport, having taken fishing and wildlife for his college program. The airport has an environmental management program and one of the employee's jobs is to deal with the wildlife around and in the airport. Sometimes, the animals apparently like to set up shop out on the airfield and someone has to make sure they get out of there safely!

P.S. In case you were wondering, I have actually learned to use that logbook that the chocolate bar is sitting on . . . more so than I ever did in my entire engineering education, in fact. It isn't just decorative!

P.P.S. This heron was much nicer than the crows I've been encountering and did NOT try to attack me. I still haven't walked down my street in that direction since the last crow encounter.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Space Centre!

Yesterday was the best day EVER. I went to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and heard a lecture about robots!

Dr. Elizabeth Croft from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia gave a lecture on human-robot interaction as part of a Women in Science initiative. It's almost like the event was made for me!

Not only was it really cool to hear about the kinds of things she was working on, but some of it is actually kind of relevant to my upcoming 41X project.

A few of the highlights:

  • People understand the rules for sharing a space (i.e. what to do when both reaching into a bowl of popcorn) and how people have trouble responding to this when it happens with a robot. However, when robots are programmed to show hesitation, like people do, the people respond better to them. This personifies the robot and makes people want to work with them, like they would a person.
  • A strong form of communication is gesturing and it can transcend language (or be useful in noisy industrial areas . . . or even underwater!). Her research has shown that if robots gesture properly, people can completely understand what the robot is asking them to do.
  • Human balance is based on "sensors" and "actuators": vision, the vestibular system and proprioception, and muscles. The combination of all of these sensors allows us to balance and correct ourselves because it acts like a feedback system.

Before the lecture, I also got to check out a bit of the museum, from the Russian space shuttle look-alike  to the astronauts hanging from the roof.

This is my new favourite place!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I pretty much had one goal this past weekend (yes, I'm going to write about my weekend today because work gets so crazy that I never have time to do it on the actual weekend) . . . get a hurricane potato! I'll save you the suspense. I was successful in doing this, but since the boyfriend and I had to wait all day for the night market to start, we also did some adventuring around Richmond on Saturday.

First off, we decided to try and find the Ikea. Mostly because Ikea stores are really cool and sell really cool things. This one wins though because it was on Sweden Way. One thing that didn't make it out to Vancouver with me was all my little containers that I pack my massive lunches in. I've been using plastic bags and feeling terrible about it, so it seemed like a good idea to grab some. Actually, we decided to grab two sets, one for each of us. Oops. We didn't really think about the fact that we would have to carry them around for the rest of the day . . . at least they were empty? Also, we unfortunately didn't get to have any Ikea meatballs because the employees were on strike and the restaurant was closed. Sad!

Then, we went down to the mall in Richmond. It was just like home! Not that it isn't fun to pretend to be all classy and shop on West 4th or Broadway or Robson Street or at Pacific Center, but I still like normal malls.

Finally it was time for the night market! The only thing I remember about the last time I went (many, many years ago) was that I bought socks. Lots and lots of cheap socks. There's also three night markets to choose from (all of which I assume sell cheap socks and hurricane potatoes). Since we were in Richmond, that narrowed it down to two to choose from. Since we're cheap, we chose to go to the free one, which was actually pretty close to the Ikea. It was the opening ceremonies for the International Summer Night Market, so when we arrived, there was a big stage set up with VIPs on it and a whole, roasted pig and a ton of cupcakes. After the introductions were done and the food was moved, dancers came up to do a lion dance. About halfway through, we saw a man walk up carrying a head of iceberg lettuce hanging off the end of a stick. I thought this was pretty funny and couldn't wait to see what was going to happen with it. A little while later, he handed off the stick to one of the VIPs, who went up and teased the lions (dancers, not real lions) with it. I thought that would be the end of it, but one of the five lions grabbed at it and then started ripping apart the lettuce and spewing it into the audience. It was AWESOME. We also saw these hilarious balloons with legs. They were excellent.

After this, it was finally time for the hurricane potatoes! I'll let the picture below show you how I felt about them. It's pretty much the BEST WAY EVER to eat a potato. Even the ketchup was tastier than normal!

After our long day out in Richmond on Saturday, we decided to take it easy on Sunday. We took a walk around the neighbourhood to pick up some slushies (mmmmm!) and I didn't even complain about my sad little legs . . . on the way there at least. I also tried to take some pictures of flowers that were clearly trying to evade my camera. And we saw a hobbit house! This is number two that we've managed to find. There's only three in the city, so we're close to a bingo.

Definitely a fun weekend. I'll be working hard until the next one!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

He Was Wrong!

A few exciting things happened today!

First, my boss was wrong. He told me that I would be stuck in the trailers for my entire co-op work term, but I found out today that I'm getting a second desk in the terminal later this week. I have been assigned to a new, huge controls project and will be working in the terminal for it several days a week. I'm pretty excited! I also think I probably have an overly inflated ego now because of the fact that I'm going to have two desks . . . oops!

Second, it's been beautiful out the last few days. So nice today that I decided that I would go put the giant hills I normally complain about to good use. I ran up them a bunch of times and walked down them inbetween for a rest. Then I went down to the beach/park and did some jumping jacks and crunches. The weather must have inspired me! Good news though friends, I have also been making sure to eat lots, so I think I've actually been putting on weight. I feel jigglier! This suspicion will be confirmed at my doctor's appointment next week.

Third, when I was at the park, I heard the ice cream truck that I thought I heard a few days ago. It really does exist! It also plays animal noises instead of music, which pretty much makes it the best ice cream truck EVER.

Fourth, my lovely best friend made it to Newfoundland to start her bike trip. Really weird to think that we went from seeing each other for ten hours a week at synchronized swimming practices to now being literally as far apart as we possibly can be in Canada. She's in the furthest east time zone and I'm in the furthest west.

Fifth, I have been slowly putting together a list of people that remind me of other people at work. Some of you might have noticed, like me, that when you move to a new city, you think you see people that you know because you're used to seeing them. Then, you realize that it can't be them because you're IN A DIFFERENT CITY. One of the maintenance guys at work sounds exactly like Brent Butt in Corner Gas (Canadian TV, so awesome). If you closed your eyes and listened to him talk, you would swear it was Brent Butt. One of the consultants sounds exactly like a lovely gentleman from my design group last semester. He talks the same and best of all, laughs the same. Like just this hilarious kind of giggle thing. Finally, there is the document coordinator, she reminds me of my cousin's girlfriend. Not only do they look and sound very similar, but they are also both interior designers by trade!

I didn't think I was going to have any pictures for this post, but them I remembered that I had a picture of a cruise ship heading out to sea, which I took from the top of the hill on my street! Also, a picture of two police officers on four-wheelers . . . I guess that's how they patrol the beach?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Deep Cove

I never really thought I would literally climb a mountain, but that's exactly what I did yesterday! Although I do enjoy spending time outside, hiking up a mountain was never really on my list of outdoor activities. Now, this might be due to the lack of mountains back at home, but it also might be because I typically stick to swimming and beaching, with the odd attempt at a run.

I went with a few friends from school that are also working out here and we took the Baden Powell trail in Deep Cove, which was exciting for the 17 years of Girl Guide in me! After wandering around the nearby park for a few minutes, the climb started off going straight up. Not even joking, so many stairs and then no stairs, just walking up . . . a mountain . . . I was definitely the straggler of the group. Luckily, the others were quite considerate of my lack of leg strength and made sure I didn't get too far behind. We passed lots of little waterfalls along the way and what we thought was a waterfall, until we saw the sign that said it was actually treated sewage outflow.

 We also saw some really gross-looking, giant slugs on the way. There might have also been some screaming (not from me!) when someone almost stepped on one. Ew. Our first goal was to find the look-out point. It turned out that it was about 2.5k along the trail. Of course, I wanted a sporty-looking shot, along the lines of, "Bam! I tackled you mountain!" I think it worked out quite well! We could also see all of the little kayaks floating around the bay down below and even all the way to downtown Vancouver!

We hiked a bit further up until we decided that we might as well turn around because this trail was NOT looping back around any time soon and headed to the park once we got down for some snacks. From the park, you could see the look-out that we climbed up to and all of the little people up on it. We also wandered around the "downtown" and into a cool, little craft and gift shop. Before we headed back to the car, we came across some funny signs that the parks department had put up near the park.

This was quite the adventurous day for me and I think I am going to not enjoy moving for the rest of today . . . maybe the beach is in order?!