Posted by: Bro | January 15, 2010

Habits and Homes

There are a lot of reasons to set up habits.  They make sure that you do certain things, they make doing those things simple, and, what I really think is the big payoff, they seem to free up mental room to do other things.  This is probably a bad example, but if you have two pieces of toast every morning before your shower, you never have to think about what you’re eating and when.  So, habits – they’re great.

As I pack to move on to another home, I realize that a consistent living space brings the same benefit as a habit.  You can think about a lot of other things if you don’t have to worry about where you are and whether it is home-like enough for you.  For those who have moved only a few times or those who haven’t moved at all, this probably isn’t much of a revelation.  Those who haven’t moved might just be so traumatized by the thought of moving that the cost in mental real estate seems obvious.

I, however, have been moving since I was 11.  At first it was back and forth between parents on a weekly basis.  Then from 13-18, private school was thrown into the mix.  Mom-school-dad-school.  I lived out of a bag and had a vague idea of where my clothes were.  I stopped unpacking at some point.  Then I moved for university.  Despite going to school in the same town for 7 years, I moved at the beginning and end of the schoolyear.  On two occassions I moved back into the same place, but still.  Then on to Ontario.  Since I moved here I have moved annually.

There’s a huge financial cost because furniture never fits a new place just right (especially things like kitchen tables) and there all sorts of costs of moving your services, address changes, renting vans, and the time required to get all of it organized.  You’d think that I’d be a pro at it now, but I am more and more reluctant to do it and so I have become okay with it being a little half-assed.  I’m trying to do it right, but if not, so what?  I buy another plate, I am unpacking at midnight?  I have done that before and it isn’t so bad.

The biggest cost is mental though.  When you move into a place knowing that you’re going to move in about 12 months, it takes a lot of effort to make the place home.  It doesn’t matter whether I will have reason to move in 12 months, because based on past experience, the fact of my moving within a year is approaching a law of thermodynamics.  So why make it home-like if I have to keep the boxes in good condition and at the front of the storage locker?

But then, maybe this will be the place for a couple of years.  We will see.  In any case, I have a kitchen to pack.

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Posted by: sis | January 14, 2010

New country

I moved this summer and ever since then I’ve been struggling to find my footing. Its not like I have never moved before, because I moved countries last year as well. This move was much harder because english isn’t the first language here, the culture is very different and foreigners are not accepted with open arms (or that is at least my impression). The last time I was able to continue working as a nurse even though it wasn’t in the country that I trained in. This time I haven’t been so lucky. Not speaking the language when I arrived it was impossible to even dream of stepping into the hospital, and the amount of bureaucracy in this country is pretty unreal so its hard to determine if I ever can. I’m pretty sure that I am not ever be able to work here as a nurse unless I retrain and I don’t know if I really feel that it is worth doing that. I like nursing, but not enough to do the training twice. I think that I would rather do something else if I am forced to start again in order to join the working world.

But now I feel lost because for the last or 8 years I have concentrated on being a nurse. I worked continuously toward this goal and once I reached it on furthering my career. Now I feel in a limbo because I am working towards nothing. Sure I am trying my best to learn french, adapt to life here, and I am taking some night classes at a music academy (that is another story). But the sweeping life direction goals that I once had and which guided the paths I took in life are gone. Now I can barely get out of bed and I don’t see the point to most things because I feel I am not working towards anything. I used to go to the gym, run errands and work a 12 hour day . Now I consider it an accomplishment when I empty the dishwasher, do laundry and go for a walk. It is supposed to be paradise here and most people are blown away when I tell them where I live, but to me this is not paradise at all. Paradise for me is a place where I feel that I am contributing to the world and not a place where I am simply “killing time” until we can move on.

Basically I’m down and trying to find my way in a place where it is not easily found. I’m sure I will find it but while I’m lost its really not very much fun.

Posted by: Bro | July 13, 2008

The Injustice of Being Tall

I am flying back to my hometown on Tuesday. I enjoy air-travel up to when I sit in an airplane seat, and enjoy it even more once I get out of the seat. You see, I am somewhat taller than average, standing 6’4″.

When I walk down the aisle of the plane, I bob and weave to avoid overhead bins, their covers, and the carelessly placed pieces of luggage within them. In some planes, if I stand up straight, my head will brush the ceiling. This doesn’t bother me.

I’m also one of those people who actually waits until my row is called. So that means I get to wait once I board the plane, for all those who disregarded the instructions to stow my bags. As a side note, their rush makes no sense, since they are actually delaying the boarding process and the flight. However, this doesn’t bother me either.

It’s once I place my bag in the bin, and then sit down that I get bothered. Once seated, I have about -2 cm of knee space. Removing the magazines from their pouch doesn’t help because my legs are long enough that they jam into that little lip between the magazine pouch and the fold-down meal tray. This bothers me.

It also bothers the person in front of me once we reach cruising altitude. It’s at that point that people recline to get more comfortable. The person in front of me cannot. Often they will try once, twice, three times and maybe then look around and see the source of their problem – my knees. On other occasions I have had to tap them on the shoulder to let them know that their repeated bouncing against their seat was only succeeding at driving my ass further into my own seat. Well, I don’t say that, I just say, “Sorry, those are my knees.”

What bothers me more is when the people in front of me are in the emergency row. Honestly, do you need more leg room? It’s bad enough that half of the time they look too old or weak to lift their carry-on luggage, never mind carry out the responsibilities that come with that seat. I should get those seats automatically. I am stronger and taller.

I was resigned to my discomfort on planes and thought it sort of funny until earlier this year. On January 10, 2008 the Canadian Transportation Agency decided that persons with disabilities who are accompanied by a personal care attendant or who require additional seating for themselves, including those determined to be functionally disabled by obesity for purposes of air travel, don’t have to pay for a second seat. That’s right, people who are so obese that they are considered disabled don’t have to pay for a second seat.

Am I being too harsh? The Canadian Transportation Agency does say that this does not apply to persons who are obese but not disabled as a result of their obesity. My problem with that is that disability is not exactly a high standard to meet. Consider the definition of a disability from the Canadian Human Rights Act:

disability means any previous or existing mental or physical disability and includes disfigurement and previous or existing dependence on alcohol or a drug

What? That’s circular, so surely there must be a better definition. Oh here, the definition from the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act looks better:

“disability” means,

(a) any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,

(b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,

(c) a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,

(d) a mental disorder, or

(e) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997; (“handicap”)

Well, both (a) and (e) use disability, so they seem almost circular, but (a) is narrowed to certain causes. I wonder what defines “illness” though? Maybe the tribunal’s original decision will shed more light on it. It can be found here: in which you’ll find the following passages. If I understand it correctly, it seems the definition of being disabled by one’s obesity depends on a case-by case assessment and that it involves determining whether the individual’s obesity “resulted in activity limitations and/or participation restrictions to the person in the context of travel in the federal transportation network.”

My height limits my activity in the federal transportation network. I cannot stretch, my legs get stiff, and it hurts. It also limits the participation of the person in front of me. They cannot recline. Where’s my free seat? I don’t even have the option of exercising my way out of the discriminatory practice.

Don’t you go saying that my height is a gift. I’ve got more to say on that later.

Posted by: Bro | July 1, 2008

When I met Prince George

“Everywhere, the snarl of diesel” – Planting manager, aka foreman.

I was fast asleep when we rolled into town. We stopped at a place called the Buffalo Grill or something like that. It was a fancier pub, now long out of business. Inside I met much of the management of the treeplanting company. Being tired and hungover I ordered food without saying much in the way of “hello.”

After gulping it down, I started to doze off at the bar. This, no doubt, made a great first impression. My good friend kindly took me to the apartments in which we would be living for a month while we planted just outside of town. As it turned out, just outside of town didn’t exactly mean just outside of town. More on that later. I inflated an air mattress, threw my sleeping bag on top of it and fell fast asleep.

Also, I was in Prince George about three days earlier than I needed to be. This meant that the management was getting up super-early to lay the groundwork for the planting season, while I dozed peacefully on my air mattress. Except I couldn’t really doze. You see, the air mattress was located in the living room of this unfurnished apartment. There was one piece of furniture- a rickety wooden picnic table which I was told was part of the bush camp gear. I had no idea what bush camp meant. There may have been a plastic ground sheet underneath the picnic table. It was classy. Anyway, the point is that my air mattress was adjacent to the picnic table at which management would eat at 5:15 a.m. before they went out for the day. One of them was fond of power-shakes. Blenders are loud.

So I didn’t sleep well, but instead tossed and turned in my sleeping bag as one of the managers made his power-shake and sang Ween. Thirty minutes later, the snarl of diesel would wake me again. I spent the next couple of days walking around town.

Prince George can best be described as a medium-sized Canadian town situated in the northern half of a province. That means that there are plenty of coniferous trees, pickups, and the 7-11 is a hot hang-out. It has the standard attractions, a dairy queen, a tourist centre, a few large malls. It also seems to be the product of post-war planning (though I admit that I don’t know much about this). The roads are big, the malls are spread out, the parking lots are enormous, and the desirable homes are well outside of town. The town is made for driving. Downtown itself is located in a small valley adjacent to the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako rivers. From the look of things when I was first there, the town had its last boom in the 80s.

I am going to work harder at trying to distill the essence of the newer Canadian towns. They have an air of sleepiness, rough edges, and pragmatism that is hard to capture. Having grown up in them, I miss their simplicity. Gas there, groceries over here, a hospital, a library, a high school, there you go. All in a neat tidy package thanks to their short history and a willingness to tear down what’s old. Prince George, in particular, seemed rougher and more pragmatic than the towns to the south.

In short, my introduction to Prince George felt like meeting a friend’s older brother. It was like the towns I knew to the south, but a little tougher and a little busier.

Having returned there for four more seasons, I met Prince George at what seemed to be the end of a peak. The town seemed to be doing well, and the people seemed optimistic, but they knew that rougher times were ahead. Given the fate of the Buffalo Grill and other small businesses that sprouted “For Lease” signs in the following seasons, they were right.

Posted by: sis | June 14, 2008

Looks like I am winning the battle of the blog posts.

Bro is seriously slacking on his entries, I guess that is because he is too busy with his government job. Or perhaps its because he uses up his water cooler type chatter at work and saves none of it for our all important blog. I’ll let him defend himself when he reads this (if he ever does).

Anyways, enough of the sis bro rivalry shite. I’m not going to let that be all I write about because its boring, and if anybody is actually reading this stuff I’m sure you don’t care.

These are the weird things I saw this week

1) A lady with a shopping bag on her head

This kind of gives you the idea* note: This isn’t her as I didn’t have my camera handy, but I’m sure you get the idea.

I’ll give the lady the benefit of the doubt because it was raining a bit, and I’m sure she had just had her hair done at the salon in a ‘do that was supposed to last until her next visit.  However if I hadn’t been on the bus whizzing by I might have informed her that she looks like more of a fool with a tight fitting tall plastic bag on her head than if she had left her hair to slightly deflate in the drizzle.

2) I also saw this;

Whoha wooha

Seriously some person had paid way too much for this and stuck it in the middle of what was once a perfectly nice lawn. Not only had they bought one sculpture that induced uncomfortable crotch staring, but they had decided to purchase two of the same and put them side by side. That way you could go from pretending not to look at one who-ha to pretending not to look at another. Plus we all know that Kate doesn’t have the cleanest of down there regions after the dirty men she has dated, and so it just makes it all that much more uncomfortable.

3) I saw lots of other notable things that I am too lazy to type about, and so here are some pictures;

girly girlypretty lamerhottie

* note: I may have not actually seen these things. They are most likely pretty pictures to fill space.

Posted by: sis | June 4, 2008

Blarg

Bro, I promised I would write more and I am a making good on that promise.

I will now commence with another poorly thought out and grammatically challenged blog entry.

I learned last week that my name is supposed to have a fada in it. If you are wondering what a fada is it is basically the Gaelic version of the French accent ague, or this á. That means that my already unpronounceable name could be even more difficult for others.                                                                                                                                                         Fada has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Perhaps I will name my first born child this. Sure there will be confusion between Father and Fada, especially if the person has a lisp, but it would be original. Then they could name their child, aka my grandchild, Luke and the circle would be complete. “Luke, I am your Fada”

Random note #2 is that I’m addicted to Wii fit. I thought it would be cool to post a blog on my journey to svelteness with my Wii fit, but then I found out that I was not original in my train of thought. The Official Wii Fit Experiment kick off! Damn people, always stealing my ideas!

Random thought #3: My Italian friends have also taught me the best new suedo swear…Baccalà!!! There is nothing more insulting than calling someone a salty cod. Besides being insulting About.com says it makes “Lots of tasty recipes!”

Sis out

Posted by: Bro | May 24, 2008

Leaving Vancouver

I’ve left Vancouver numerous times. Before I moved there, I would visit family who lived there and then leave. After I moved there, I would often visit my family or head skiing. So Vancouver has seen the ass-end of me in a number of ways.

The departure that interests me most at the moment actually happened while I was attempting to sleep off a hangover. I was in the passenger seat of an over-packed car, being driven to Prince George by an irritated friend. Not only was my hangover denying her my stunning conversation, but the drinking which had caused it had also ended loudly in her apartment. Come to think of it, she may have been peeved when I announced on that headache-filled morning that I could not drive standard.

So she was almost soloing a drive to Prince George, which is boring and depressing since Prince George is a depressing place to be heading in late April. I shouldn’t say that she was soloing it, because I did wake up periodically to bitch and moan. Did I mention that I was clinically depressed at the time? No wonder she doesn’t talk to me anymore.

The drive from Vancouver to Prince George is stunningly beautiful. Vancouver, as many people know, is gorgeous, but heading east out of it is a nice change of pace. The omnipresent north shore mountains recede and you drive through the agriculturally-rich valley and into the steeper mountains around Hope. At Hope you make a left and you cruise for 6-8 hours through steep canyons and passes, near desert, and into the gentle rolling hills of the interior. I missed most of that on my first drive to Prince George because I was either asleep or focused on my perceived flaws.

Asleep, hungover, moody, and missing out on everything there was to see and say, so why remember this?

It was the start of my first season of treeplanting, and anyone who has known me for more than three weeks knows that I can’t help but talk about treeplanting. I’m hoping that by writing about it, I will learn to shut up about it. It is simply too far removed from my current policy career, yet I still catch myself saying “one time when I was treeplanting…”

Posted by: Bro | April 14, 2008

‘Cuz I was first.

Sis and I are going to start writing a blog. Why? Because we are amazing and our parents want to show us off on-line. Like many of their plans, we will thwart it and likely end up insulting each other. For example, Sis is shorter than I and less physically intimidating. Proud, proud parents.

Having ventured into blogging before and found myself navel-gazing, I’ll attempt to keep it to things that people might actually want to read about, which means writing about something other than me and my opinions about people you don’t know. I’d like to think that Sis will do the same, but she is all about thinking she is important so I doubt it. Consider that a dropped hint.

Possible topics include: Oplopanax horridus, skepticism, small-town Canada, and Toronto. There you go. It just might be amazing.

Posted by: sis | April 13, 2008

This was all my idea

I got the oh so subtle hint about not having my posts be self-involved, however I will use this first one to directly ignore that hint.

This was all MY idea!!

My original master plan was not without flaw, but I must say it was brilliant. The flaw in the initial idea was to use the first letter of our last name in the title along with our usual nicknames for each other. This would make our blog title “GSis and GBro”, but when I sounded it out I decided that we would attract a lot of religious zealots wondering where their saviour was. Bro saved the idea by coming up with an equally genious title of which I endorse fully.

The blog was not my only idea as I also have come up with another stellar plan. This plan I have is how to save Starbucks.

Now they are not my favorite coffee house, in fact I think their coffee tastes burnt and is expensive. But my ideas do not discriminate and I have noticed that their share price is down and MacDonald’s is trying to close in on the coffee monopoly they hold. So I have come up with a plan for them to save themselves… serve Poo coffee!!

Animal dung coffee at £50 a cup

Tell the CEO Howard Schultz to call me if he wants me to elaborate further.

Sis out

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