Friday, July 26, 2013

Volunteering and Planespotting

Just like at my last co-op job, the engineers here are also involved in helping the community. My first Friday working at the airport, I was at there bright and early to participate in the "FOD Walk" (FOD = foreign object debris), where we picked up FOD around the airport. Then, we had our own "TOD Walk" (TOD = trailer object debris). Yeah, the acronym doesn't work out quite as well, but I'm over it. Tomorrow morning, a bunch of us are heading out to Burnaby for the morning to help with the set-up of a new food bank. The cool part about this food bank is that the people who coordinate it are trying to make it more dignified for the people who use it. So, really, we're setting up a "grocery store" of sorts. That'll be new for me, since I've never worked in retail! People will be able to come in and pick up what they need from the shelves, just like grocery shopping! I'll get back to you on how it goes!

In other volunteering news, I have a Sparks unit!! I will get to be a Sparks leader for the four months of the Sparks "season" that I'm out here! It turns out that I'll also be the most experienced of the bunch, as they have just had a big turnover in the leaders for the unit. My four years of experience gives me the most seniority (although, my seventeen years also does too, likely). I'm excited to meet the leaders and the girls and have the opportunity to share ideas all the way from Ontario! Now all I need to do is pick up my Guiding shirt and camp hat when I'm home in a few weeks. The only downside to the situation is that the yoga class I have been trying is on the same night. So, I'll be finding a new to go to, if I still like it by then.

On that note, I can walk this week after yoga! My hamstrings seem to have figured themselves out and this week I came out of the class feeling like I had a great workout, instead of a painful stretching session. Although, I have been feeling the burn in my shoulder, arm, leg and hip muscles for these two days. I also love that I can walk to and from the class! (And there's a market that's still open after the class on the walk to I can refuel with a chocolate milk!)

I'm going to finish off this post by saying again how nice my commute is! I've been able to sit at the windows of the SkyTrain a few times this week and I'm pretty sure I looked like a little kid when the planes went over. They're so close!! These pictures don't even do any justice. You can practically see the people in the plane. It's the coolest thing!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Vancouver List

I'm sure you're all breathing a sigh of relief now that I'm posting again! Now you know that I was NOT, in fact, pecked to death by crows. You're welcome. However, I have been insanely busy between work and enjoying the wonderful weather we've been having! I thought I would share some of the reasons why I am loving spending my time out here (and the few reasons that I'm not).

Reasons Why I Love Vancouver:

1) The Weather

The weather here is pretty much perfect. It's been around the 20 degree mark since I got here, which means everyday when I get home from work . . . shorts! It's also not that stifling hot that Ontario gets in the summer. 40 degrees with smog in downtown Toronto on the 7th floor with no air-conditioning was NOT a good time. I've heard that they get a lot of rain out here, but that has yet to prove itself true. Especially since Calgary and Toronto have been getting all of that. Apparently there can be earthquakes too, but I guess Ottawa took care of that one earlier this year too.

2) My Security Pass

I definitely feel like I own the place when I'm walking around in my high-visibility vest and security pass. I keep hoping people will come and ask me for help or directions. I'm pretty much crushed on a day that they don't. Let me tell you, it was not an easy process to make it happen either! It took me 6 weeks to get the pass! Now that I do have it, I start preparing myself the stop before I get off at the airport. I put my book and cell phone away and whip out the pass, straighten it out on the lanyard around my neck and then sit up tall, in case anyone wants to know when to get off. To actually use it, pretty much like all of those spy movies. Biometrics are awesome.

3) My Job

My manager told me that he wanted to be the best manager I've ever had and so far, he's doing a pretty good job! His goal is to just expose me to everything he can at the airport, including fire extinguisher training, an architectural tour, design of the baggage system, health and safety (good thing I took that half-credit course . . .), project management, golf tournaments, contractors, bow-tie Wednesday (which I pay tribute to with a headband adorned with a bow), new software, work as a business analyst, the 4:30am clean-up walk, etc. It wouldn't be too bad either if they wanted me to bring all of my knowledge back next year, once I'm done school. Can I make that my sole co-op workterm objective? To be hired back? It's also pretty wicked that I can just see planes taking off and landing while waiting for my train to go home!

4) The Markets

When I first got out here, I was pretty unimpressed with the grocery stores. What is this world without Loblaw stores?? Now I've realized it's because there are way better places to get food at. There are small fruit and vegetable markets at every corner, where you can just buy grape tomatoes in bulk. It was awesome. The other bonus is that it's so cheap! Spending the time to go and pick out your fruit and vegetables like this definitely improves the price. It's also mostly locally grown. I know some of my Guelph friends would love that idea! I usually buy a whole backpack full of fruits and vegetables and it only cost me $8 to $9! You can also go and buy fresh-baked bread and bagels this way and get your meat right from the butcher. I still use the grocery stores for things like milk and cheese (weirdly milk is cheaper out here, but cheese is more expensive than Ontario) and pretzels, but these small markets are the way to go for most things!

5) The Festivals

There is always something happening out here. I've been to a couple of music festivals, including one right down the street from where I live and last week, the boyfriend and I went to the Gastown Grand Prix. People were racing bikes (ridiculously fast) around the streets of Gastown. For safety, all of the turns had hay bales!

6) The Beach

This doesn't require much explanation. Beaches everywhere. That I can swim in (since they're salt water). Also, the seawall. So cool.

7) Transit

Transit here is actually really good. The pass is a bit expensive, but totally worth it considering how much I use it. It's cool that you can get all the way from UBC out to Surrey and down to Richmond and up to the mountains in North Vancouver all on the same transit system. They're also implementing a new fare system soon and will be doing a beta test of it in a few months. The engineer in me was excited (probably too excited) to apply to be a tester. I'll know August 9th!

8) The Buildings

There are cool buildings all over the place! From Canada Place, up at the waterfront, to the amazing airport (not biased at all here). That's only commercial too! Where I live reminds me of Florida, with its beachy houses. The buildings are all so different here too because of the climate. It isn't just row after row of identical bricked houses. There are even the hobbit houses!

9) The People

People just seem happier and nicer out here. Even though its such a big city, it seems a lot smaller. Everyone thanks the bus drivers when they get off the bus, just like in Guelph! They also say hi to you on the street. 

10) The Boyfriend

I guess it's also pretty nice that the boyfriend is out here. He can make the list too!

Reasons Why I Do NOT Love Vancouver:

1) The Crows

I think that I might actually be psychologically traumatized from the times that I've been attacked. Every time I see them while walking around Vancouver, I do a check to see if there are other people near me that can call 911 when I get attacked and end up lying on the ground bleeding. (That might be a bit graphic, but that's exactly what I picture happening when I walk past them. Psychological trauma, I tell you!)

2) Distance

My family is very far away! Personally, I think they should just move out here with me, so they'll be closer. I guess I still have to work on convincing them though.

I had also mentioned that I was going to try a yoga class. Which I did, a week later than I planned because of the bike racing. The (free) yoga class was in a store after they closed. It was pretty cool because they pushed all of the clothing racks and did it right there on the floor. I had bought myself a nice, purple mat to use. The instructor was great and even recognized that I was new! Now for a brief synopsis:

Go to yoga for the first time in 7 years.
Pull out the purple mat.
Start the class.
Haven't stretched my hamstrings in years.
Think it's going well.
Haven't fallen over yet.
Instructor says we're going to try handstands.
That's not going to happen.
Try it anyway.
Can't walk.
Takes twice as long to get anywhere at work.
Can't walk even more.
Take 2 buses to work instead of one because it's less walking,
Also can't climb the baggage system.
Go for a swim.
Think it will help the pain.
Feels better in the pool.
Get out of the pool.
Not better at all.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Beaches and Waffles and Postcards

I think that the title of this post sounds pretty hipster. Especially with the postcards part. But, no friends, I am not a hipster (even though my Ray Bans might try and deceive you). However, I am pretty relaxed after my weekend!

After a big, tasty barbecue dinner on Friday night, the boyfriend and I took to Spanish Banks on Saturday, where a group of his friends was getting together for beach volleyball. For those of you who had to endure gym class with me in Grade 9, you'll know that I'm not particularly good with hand-eye coordination. Like, not at all. I probably shouldn't even attempt to play sports involving balls because it just doesn't happen. Not to mention the fact that I burn like a burger that my dad is barbecuing (just kidding, Dad! I know you're just making sure that it's cooked all the way through!), so I had my big baseball hat and sunglasses on. Now I didn't only lack the coordination, but also the visibility. Needless to say, after some fruitless attempts and a very encouraging (but probably frustrating) couple of rounds, I decided to become the protector of the food. We were going to have a big picnic lunch later! Somehow though, I have still been in extreme pain for the last two days . . . I blame all of the running I had to do through the sand to get the balls that I missed.

The tide was also waayyyyyy out on Saturday, you probably had to walk a kilometre to even get to the water! Luckily (or not so luckily) there was also a strong breeze (wind) blowing down the beach, along with probably half the sand that was there.

After enjoying as a spectator for a bit longer, we started up the barbecue and had sausages . . . and vegetables and watermelon and drinks and chips and antojitos and brownies and cookies. So much food!

That evening we also attended a gathering for a birthday, where we enjoyed beverages. Some random, apparently cheap, beverage from Kelowna. It kind of tasted like water when you got to the bottom, which was weird. I also happened to run into my cousin on the way there, which was nice because we hadn't seen each other in a while. Such a coincidence in such a big city! I don't think I've been awake that late since I moved here!

On the way home from the event, we passed a waffle place on the bus and I was determined to try it from that moment on. No surprise then that I ended up there on Sunday morning. I tried out the apple and cheddar waffle. It even came with a cute little salad on the side. Waffle Gone Wild! is my new favourite place! So tasty!

In fun news work, I got a name placard! I guess I'm here long enough to warrant one. Or maybeeee I'll be able to use it next year . . . after I graduate. Hmmmm. You also get to see my desk, with its fun high-visibility vest and hard hat.

Today, when I came home from work, where I spent my day being productive, but also stuck at a desk, I found a lovely surprise in the mail. My bestie had sent me a postcard from her east coast biking trip! I don't even know how she got my address, but it was so exciting! I love mail. I even keep stamps in my purse, so I can send fun things. Like cards. I love sending cards. Postcards are even better though! Thanks girly!

And now here I am. I'm planning on going all Vancouver this week and trying out some yoga (for free of course). Which is great because apparently it's supposed to rain. Yay for Vancouver.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Yay! Fireworks!

I really like that these long weekend things happen pretty much every month! When you work a standard Monday-to-Friday-9-to-5 (well, I actually do 8:30 am to 4:30 pm) job, long weekends are the coolest thing ever!

I kept myself busy and spent tons of time outside because we almost had some Ontario-like weather temperature-wise. What I really liked was that this didn't translate to Ontario-like weather humidity-wise. Much easier for a person with cystic fibrosis!

Friday, the boyfriend and I had poutine pizza . . . our new favourite thing that we probably shouldn't have ever consumed more than once. It's actually so good though!

On Saturday, I decided we were definitely going to the beach. If I was home in Ontario I would be, so I was definitely going to be doing it here! Being by the water also made the temperature so much more bearable. There was a strong breeze (which was also good because there was no way I was staying in the water that long!) that kept us cool and we did try the water out once. I was also a big dork and had my hat, sunglasses and layers of sunscreen on. It wasn't fruitless though, I didn't get burnt at all! The boyfriend was not so lucky.

On Sunday, we decided to head over to UBC and wander around. We saw the flagpole plaza. It's such a pretty spot because the campus opens right up to the mountains and it's just like "Bam! Canada!" How appropriate for the Canada Day long weekend! There were also these super cool squishy seat things (also notice how they are white, so the glaring sun doesn't heat them up much and they can be sat on . . . science, friends). We also headed down to the rose garden where I decided to have a photo shoot since I matched the roses so well. I could even kind of smell them (like I'm pretending to do), unusual for me!

Here's the only bad part of the weekend . . . really, the only bad thing since I've been out here. You've probably guessed it . . . the crows. Yes, I am bringing them up again. This time, we were walking through UBC (not anywhere near where I live) and I saw one sitting up on one of the banners around the campus. I am legitimately scared of these things from my past encounters and the boyfriend was making fun of me and saying how it was going to get me. Obviously we didn't think it actually would, but just as we had walked past it (together!) it swooped down behind me and it's wing hit my back! Just like the other time! Except this time, I didn't have a jacket and was wearing a tank top. So, I started to cry. There's pictures. Yep, awesome. I'm convinced it was aiming for me because there's no way that it would have just happen to hit me instead of him! I'm also convinced that it likes my hair. It must be the same colour as some crow predator or something. Or maybe it looks like nest material. I don't know, but I've had just about enough! Fledgling season was supposed to be over! I'm also probably going to be known at work as "Crazy Crow Girl" or something.

On to happier things. Monday. The day I had been waiting for. Fireworks! Now, obviously you can't see fireworks during the day, so we had to do something. We went for a walk in Pacific Spirit Park! Most of it was okay, except for hills. I hate hills. We've also decided that the boyfriend must scare people off because every single person we passed said hello to us, but that never, ever happens when he's alone. It also happened at the grocery store before. Weirdo.

After cooling down from the walk, we headed towards the beach because we had a plan to be able to watch BOTH sets of fireworks . . . and also not get stuck downtown until 3:00 am. From the beach, you could see the high fireworks above the buildings and hear them too. Across the water, in West Vancouver, you could see the whole show because they were out on a barge in the inlet. Good plan too because transit was crazy that day! As we were getting to the beach, the bus stopped to let people off and then made a funny noise and shut down. We figured we might as well walk from where we were since we didn't know what was going on, but just as we stepped out, this river of green slime started pouring out of the bottom of the bus and running along the curb. That couldn't have been healthy. Also, for my environmental engineering friends, you might want to look into how great that is going into the storm sewers.

All in all, a great weekend! Yay! Fireworks!