Saturday, 11 November 2017

For Ed

W. B. Yeats

I had the pleasure of being Ed's neighbour for almost seven years. I attended Remembrance Day services with him for a few of those years. This past October was five years since he passed away and I still miss seeing his friendly face in the hall.

For your service, Ed, I thank you.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Dear October

Dear October,

You are going to be a great month. To be honest, you don't even have to do anything and you'll already be better than September because September was the month that I had to put down my cat, Linden. He had a tumor growing in his mouth/brain area and while I knew the end was coming, it still sucked major donkey balls.


Yes, September sucked.

It was also the month in which I backfilled for my boss which is always a good experience. Except we had major changes to a project while she was gone and I had to do all the estimates... shit.

Not to mention, we already short-staffed so I was doing her job and all of mine. I left the office late and then continued doing work from home.

Oh, and they forgot my sub pay for the nine days she was away.


The pay will be rectified on my next pay, but... ugh!

It's also the month that some of my favourite Swiss people went home.


At this point, October, you don't have to do anything. Just let me get through the month unscathed and I'll like you just fine.

On the upside, you're also the month in which Canadian Thanksgiving occurs.

And a German friend I met in Ireland is going to be passing through.

And I'm applying for an overseas job. I don't hold out much hope of getting the job as I'm woefully unqualified based on their requirements, but Donald Trump was (still is) woefully unqualified and we know how that turned out, so... who knows? Could be!


Cheers, October.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Sunday Sundries

Today turned into an unexpectedly long day and now I'm still dealing the emotional after math of Game of Thrones, so you get one thing tonight. One!

A friend posted a video on Facebook about a mbira but it didn't look like a mbira. It's called an array mbira and sounded nice, but it made me long for 'normal' mbira music. In my searching to find some, I came across this video.


It is so beautiful. It's one of my new favourites. Sadly, this version isn't available for sale anywhere! It's only the radio edits which are all electronic music. The single he released is still nice but it's not this one *sigh* 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

No Sundries

Between threats of nuclear war and the protests in Charlottesville, it has been a rough weekend for many in the States. Further afield, rioting broke out in Kenya after it was announced that President Uhuru Kenyatta won his re-election. Twenty-four people, including a 9-year-old girl, have died in the rioting. Here at home, more evacuation orders have been given as the result of the wildfires.

So, I have not witty comments to make or fun items to link to tonight. Instead, here's a video from Playing for Change.


If you are so inclined, you can learn more about the work they do on their website.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Sunday Sundries

1. "The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)" was released on Netflix Canada on August 1st. You know how Netflix notified me? By sending me an email about "Planet of the Apes (1968)".  Wrong choice, Netflix!

I don't know why "The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)" didn't do better in theatres when it was released, but I love it. In its opening sequence, there's a car chase between two trabants. TRABANTS! Trabbis were a product of the former East Germany and reached their top speed of 100km/h in 21 secs. A trabbi car chase is a thing of beauty!

The whole movie is ridiculous and fun, but again... TRABBIS!! It didn't really matter what they did after that scene, I was going to love the movie.


2. August 1st is Switzerland's national holiday. I don't know if you know this but I love Switzerland. I know! This is brand new information to EVERYONE! Also, I am never sarcastic. Coincidentally, a friend posted an article that day about Switzerland's new suspension bridge which lead down the YouTube rabbit hole of Swiss videos. On a whim, I entered Sigriswil in the search bar and actually found a video of Sigriswil. The reason this is surprising is because Sigriswil Town only has a population of 889 and this is a fairly professional looking video. WHAT?!?


Not going to lie, I get a little teary watching that. I've walked all those streets! I ate that restaurant! I've attended services at that church! I've ridden that bus route! I don't even mind the crappy Phil Collins song because the video just makes me so happy.

3. Dara Ó Briain is a comedian I have enjoyed since catching him on a Just for Laughs festival show on CBC when I was still in high school. Not only is he funny, but his knowledge of math and science is amazing. What I wouldn't give to see him live! Anyway, his take on the movie 2012 had me cackling so loud one of the cats hid under the bed. (Do not stop it before it stops itself. Also, NSFW.)


4. At the time I post this, GISHWHES will have started. I look forward to seeing what ridiculous items I can get roped into doing this year.

5. Monaghan lost against Dublin and Armagh lost again Tyrone in Gaelic Football. *sigh* From here-on-out, I'm supporting team Anyone-But-Dublin... even if that is *shudder* Tyrone.

On the upside, the Galway-Tipperary Hurling match was not only a fantastic game - the teams were within one point or tied with each other for 95% of the game - but Galway nudged out a win in the final seconds of the game. The only downside to the game was seeing Supermacs on the Galway jerseys and remembering that I never did get to one the last two times I was back.


Just another reason to head back. Some of my favourite Ireland memories have occurred in a Supermacs. The fact that I remember those memories is pretty amazing given the drinking that had gone on before many of them.

Happy August, everyone!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Sunday Sundries

1. It took four boxes of throat lozenges, 1 bottle of DayQuil, 1 bottle of NyQuil, and a lot of doing nothing for me to be able to say that I'm finally better... almost. There's still the occasionally coughing fit and a semi-persistent sore throat but I feel like doing things. That's a far cry from how I've been feeling these past two and a half weeks.

Due to work commitments, I couldn't miss any days but it meant my evenings were naps, followed by some TV, followed by bed.


I'm happy to have that part of the illness behind me.

2. Dunkirk is fantastic. The movie is less a story and more a moment in time. If you are interested in seeing it, definitely see it in the theatre.


3. Sticking the with movies (because when you want low-energy activities, you go see all the movies), Atomic Blonde is a lot of fun. If you enjoy James Bond films and like strong female protagonists then check out this one. The fight scenes are pretty intense but unlike most action flicks, the characters become tired and affected by their injuries as the scenes go on. Thumbs up on that.

Now, the one thing I didn't like. I'm going to preface this by reminding you that the use of Xhosa in Captain America: Civil War bothered me because NOT THE RIGHT REGION. The movie takes place in the days immediately before the fall of the Berlin Wall and there is a scene set in East Berlin. When the lead character crosses the street, you can clearly see the crossing signs behind here and they are not the correct Ampelmännchen. They should look like this:


The former East Germany is the only place in the world with these symbols. But Andrea, I hear you say, why would they change the crossing sign for a 5 second shot? Because East Germany never got rid of these signs. They started to but after a huge public outcry, the government decided to keep them. They are an endearing symbol of East Germany, one of the few items to survive into the modern era. They might as well have digitally removed the Fernsehturm from the skyline and it wouldn't have been as jarring to my eyes.

Now to tuck that complaint away into the same neglected corner as my Civil War complaint!

4. Monaghan and Armagh both won their GAA Gaelic Football games this past weekend. We now have a pub in Victoria that shows the games live. I'm the only person in there watching them but at least I don't have to watch them on super sketchy Internet sites. YAY! Monaghan faces off against Dublin this coming Saturday. In the meantime, I'll be psyching myself up by watching this classic on repeat.


That ad is a thing of beauty, I tell you. Also, it's nice to know that 31 of the Irish counties will be cheering for Monaghan this weekend because everyone hates Dublin.

5. Updating your CV for a job in the same place you currently work is annoying. I really just want to hand them a paper that says "you know what I'm capable of so do you think I can handle this position or not?" It's that fine line between talking yourself up but not overstating your abilities to the point where they can call  you out on it because they also worked on that same project. Ugh. Just ugh.


Please?

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Well, That Sucks

No Sunday Sundries this week because...


My friend got married yesterday and it was lovely, but I was home and in bed by 10:20. That really should have been my first clue.

Woke up this morning with a sore throat and what I call cotton ears. Everything sounds like I have ear plugs in.


I almost didn't watch Game of Thrones tonight because the idea of having to concentrate on it was too daunting. (I made myself because I didn't want to risk spoilers tomorrow at work.) I'm hoping this passes soon because I have to prep for a class I'm facilitating next week. It's hard to concentrate on prep work when you feel like this.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sunday Sundries

1. From Chek News, our local station, a short video about the work the VHGA is doing at Craigflower Manor.

Sorry, I can't get the embedded video to work so you can click here for the video instead.

I grew up very close to Craigflower so I have a soft spot for it and I'm excited to see what they do with the place. I did a walk-through when we had the Highland Games volunteer BBQ, and the work they've put into the space already is fantastic.

2. A little video to freak out anyone learning Spanish. De nada.


3. I've recently started watching a fantastic show on Netflix about population control called "Midsomer Murders".

If you didn't at least groan at my horrible joke, you obviously don't watch the show.


I used to love watching the show back when I still had cable - and the local station aired the show on Saturday nights which should tell you something about my social life - but I haven't seen it since I got rid of cable six years ago. Thanks to Netflix, it's now my background noise while work on various things around the apartment. Oh, DCI Barnaby. how I missed you.

4. This picture made my week.


And with that, have a wonderful week!

Monday, 3 July 2017

BC Politics Update: Final Edition... Maybe

I posted and ran last Thursday because of my concert tickets but I wish I could have stayed home and kept on top of all the happenings because it ended up being an incredible day for BC politics.

But first, PMJ was fantastic and the whole evening was so much fun. The highlight for me was Maiya Sykes singing Radiohead's Creep. I wish I had a recording of her singing it because it was breathtaking. Instead, here's her singing Don't Look Back in Anger.


But the more important news: BC FINALLY HAS A GOVERNMENT! We went to the pools on May 9th and a short 51 days later, we had our results.


As expected, the Throne Speech from Christy Clark promised the moon, forcing the NDP and Green party to vote against things they plan to do as part of their platforms to put their power-sharing plan in motion.


As I've previously mentioned, this is a very calculated move by the Liberals as it means that they already have their next election platform. The worst part? It's working! Reading the comments on a few of the articles Thursday night - I know, reading comments? What was I thinking? - there were more than a few that mentioned "but the Throne Speech promised so many things, what were the NDP/Greens thinking?" Even if the NDP/Greens had decided not to vote against the Throne Speech, the Liberals-in-SoCreds-clothing HAD NO INTENTION OF EVER FOLLOWING THROUGH ON THE PROMISES IN THE THRONE SPEECH!!

This is a government that removed so much funding from the education budget that the Supreme Court of Canada found them in breach of contract and mandated that they restore funding retroactively. Think really hard for one freaking minute: it took a court-order for the Liberals to even come close to properly funding public education. Do you really think this is a government that is going to increase funding to everything else that they've cut over the last 16 years?


By losing the confidence vote, Clark had shown that she did not have the support of the government. She went to Government House Thursday night to tender her resignation to our Lieutenant-Governor, Judith Guichon. Upon tendering her resignation, there were two things that could happen: the LG accepts the NDP/Green proposal for power-sharing or she could call another election. We know that when asked for her opinion, despite saying she wouldn't advise on it, Clark told the LG she should call another election because of course she did.


Thankfully, Guichon didn't follow Clark's recommendation and called John Horgan to Government House that same night. BC now has an NDP minority government with Green support.

This is uncharted territory for BC politics. We've never had a minority or coalition government in BC. It could be a great success or we could be heading to another election in a few months times.

On the upside, this whole fiasco gave us one of the greatest tweets ever.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Update on BC Politics... AGAIN!

Christy Clark has officially lost leadership of the BC government after losing a confidence vote.

So many thoughts but I have to get ready for PMJ so for now...


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sunday Sundries

1. Summer has finally arrived in Victoria. It showed up just in time for the first day of summer. Yesterday, it decided it was ready to skip straight to the August heatwave for a ridiculous 30C. I don't really 'do' heat, so I am very happy that the forecast calls for the temperature to drop back into the 20s. I can finally stop dunking my head in cold water every two hours.

Me all weekend
2. Wednesday was National Aboriginal Day here in Canada. Two big things came out of this day nationally:

  1. Starting next year, it will be called National Indigenous Peoples Day which is a much better word to use to refer to this group of people than Aboriginal.
  2. Hector-Louis Langevin's name will be removed from Government offices. Hector was was one of the Fathers of Confederation and did much good for this country. However, he was one of the architects of Canada's Residential School system so I will not cry over the removal of his name.
I attended a presentation and discussion at the Royal BC Museum on repatriation. It was an interesting discussion with both members of the First Nations communities and museum staff who liaison with the FN communities regarding repatriation of items in the BC archives.

3. I am going to see PostModern Jukebox on Thursday. If you don't know who PMJ are, they take modern popular songs and perform them in various music styles from the 1920s to the 1960s. I am so excited! They just recently released this video of Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" as an old-school torch song.


Ah-maze-ing.

4. I went for a hike on Saturday around Royal Roads, also known as the home of Xavier's School for Gifted Children. Deadpool was there recently but no one was in when we stopped by. I was an amazing walk but I was very grateful that the majority was amongst the trees or beside the ocean.

Looking south across the Esquimalt Lagoon towards the Olympic Mountains (Washington State)
5. The work project is done... well, it's moved into stabilization which means I'm back to a normal work day with a few floor walking/support sessions. I can actually take my lunch breaks again!


Monday, 19 June 2017

Sunday Sundries

It's another Sunday Sundries on a Monday. Meh... things happen.


1. On Saturday night, I headed to Phillips Brewery for the Under the Maltworks series. This month's movie was "This is Spinal Tap". I knew that we'd get a beer and a themed snack as part of the event, but we also got pins on our way out. So now I have a pin that goes all the way up to 11. It was a very enjoyable way to watch a movie, and I'm a bit bummed that I have a competing event for the next movie. That competing event is my friend's wedding so it is going to win the decision, but I did spend a couple of minutes trying to figure out how to do both.


2. "Thunderbird calls the people to the long house so they can witness. The act of witnessing is very important in our culture. To witness, you see, you hear, you experience, and then you go away from the place of witnessing and tell others what you witnessed." This explanation was given during the Git Hayetsk Dancers performance at the Aboriginal Cultural Festival this past weekend. So, this is my witness. I had a lovely time; I got to see my favourite dance piece by the Le-La-La Dancers, I enjoyed the Bison Taco from the Songhees Food Truck, I picked up Andy Everson's "Rise" to go with "Resistance" that I purchased last year (and at some point, I'm going to get "Defiance" to complete the set), and I finally bought myself a silver First Nations pendant I've been wanting to get (the design is Raven). I wish I could have stayed longer to watch more of the performances but it was cold and occasionally raining. After two hours, I was ready to head home. Because of the damp, cold weather, I didn't bring my camera this year so you'll have to make due with one of last year's photos.

Andy Everson is also one of the Le-La-La Dancers
3. My friends, Emma and Katie, and I have decided to start going to hikes once a month starting this Saturday. The long-term goal is a couple of short, multi day hikes next summer. While we have tentatively agreed that we will stop once the weather turns in October/November, I have a sneaking suspicion that Emma will convince us that the weather's not that bad. If it turns really bad, then we can always go snowshoeing.


If you're a Victoria-peep and are interested in joining us, let me know. I'll forward you our plan.

4. After finishing House of Cards, I started watching Riverdale. Wow. Archie and the gang have changed a lot since I used to pick up Double Digests as a treat when I was waiting inline at the store. At least Betty and Veronica still have the correct hair colour.


5. June 21st is National Aboriginal Day. If you're in Victoria, the Royal BC Museum is holding a participatory discussion on Repatriation. I hope I see you there.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Sunday Sundries

1. We're in the middle of a big project at work right now, so it might be Sunday-only posts for the next three weeks.

Me last Friday... and probably every day this week.
2. Black Raven Armoury currently has their Wonder Woman pattern available for free. You can sign up for it here.


3. The UK election was... interesting. To ensure she maintains the balance of power, Theresa May - who wants to take a harder stance on terrorists - has made a deal with a political party that once funded terrorists. I will turn to one of my favourite satire sites, The Ulster Fry, for my take on it.

Also from The Ulster Fry.
4. Speaking of elections, the end is in sight for the BC Election. Christy Clark has called parliament for June 22nd. The big fight will be who gives up an MP to be Speaker of the House. Then it's the Throne Speech and, hopefully, Christy's goodbye.


5. I finished Season Five of "House of Cards". I can't believe how they ended it. I get having a cliffhanger, but they had, like, eight. AHH!!! (Also, I love Michael Kelly. This link contains spoilers.) There was one story that felt like it didn't go anywhere this season, but it also seemed like it could be cause plenty of problems in a future season so...


6. Part of the Alberta contingent was visiting this weekend which means day drinking. Had a few trips down memory lane in the past 24 hours. We'll add Alberta to the places I'm feeling nostalgic for this week.

Looking at the Sweetgrass Hills from Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Sunday Sundries

It's Sunday Sundries... on a Monday. Like Freedom Friday on a Taco Tuesday but less tasty.


My Internet has been dropping the last few days causing my Sunday night post plans to be thwarted.


1. I went to Wonder Woman after work on Friday. I need to do a full proper review but with my Internet still playing hide-n-go-seek, all you get is "I loved it. It was everything I wanted and more. My only complaint was that I couldn't just sit in the theatre and watch the next showing being apparently pets need to be feed or something. I don't know. I just know they ruin everything. But the movie was fantastic. It has flaws - I've yet to see a movie that doesn't - but they are so minimal and inconsequential when compared to what it got so very right."

Look at her kick butt!

2. I spent the weekend with Noah and Rachel. There was a failure with Noah's kidney transplant and they have had to start the search for another donor roughly 10 years sooner than anticipated. This is my reminder that there is a need for kidney donors. For more information about being a living donor in Canada, visit The Kidney Foundation of Canada. In the States, visit The National Kidney Foundation.

By The Awkward Yet
3. Ireland have officially entered their bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. If they win the bid, I'm making plans to go the RWC visit my family. Who wants to come with me? 😉


They're even going to open up Croke Park to non-GAA games. LOVE IT!

4. National Aboriginal Day is coming up - many indigenous people celebrate the whole month - which means the Victoria Aboriginal Cultural Festival is just weeks away. I will be going because I believe it is important to support the First Nations in celebrating their heritage. There will be Māori dancers from New Zealand this year. That's something different!

If you are planning on attending, I highly recommend that you try and catch Andy's Totem Tour, the Le-La-La Dancers, and Alex Wells. Food, as always, is available from the Songhees Seafood and Steam Food Truck. My personal favourite is the Indian Taco (bison version).

It's a few years old, but a few good words from Wab Kinew.


Here's to a great week, everyone! Only four more days until the weekend.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

That's May in the Bag

Sitting at my desk today thinking about the topics I wanted to talk about on here, I suddenly realised it was May 31st and I had completed my month of blogging... except for two days I made the conscious choice not to blog.

I wouldn't say that the blogs were of any great calibre but I did something after months of nothing. I'll take it.

I've set my goal going forward to post (at least) three times a week, with an aim of posting Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. I'll see how that works for June and adjust after that if necessary.

You know, I never did write a post where I was wistfully nostalgic for Switzerland...

Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I've been reminded that it was four years ago this month that I was last in Switzerland. For those who don't know about my love of Switzerland, you can read how I ended up there here.

The Swiss use the term Röstigraben for the divide between the French-speaking and German-speaking parts of Switzerland. It means 'Rösti ditch' and refers to the cultural differences between the two sides. (Rösti is a staple in German-speaking Switzerland.) In Fribourg, is one of the only places where there is a physical representation of the Röstigraben. In the picture below is the River Saane (German) or Sarine (French). To the left of river was the German settlement of Freiburg, to the right was the French settlement of Fribourg. While both sides speak French now, the river is still considered the border of the Röstigraben.


Bern: come for the culture, stay for the bear porn. When I first visited Bern almost two decades ago, the Bear Pits were just that: pits in the earth. Small, miserable, depressing pits. Since then, the city has cordoned off a sizable chunk of the hillside leading down to the Aare (the river), and has even fenced in part of the river for them to swim in. Above the bear area is a lovely restaurant and bar called the Altes Tramdepot. The food's decent, but the beer (they brew their own) and view are divine.



Karin and I took the slow boat to her parents' house across Thunersee (Lake of Thun). I was there in May. There is snow on those mountains. THERE SHOULD NOT BE SNOW ON THOSE MOUNTAINS IN MAY!!! Of course, all the snow was rain by the time it reached us. Such a wet visit.



It rained heavily every day I was in and around Thun. It even snowed when we were in Sigriswil due to the slightly higher elevation. Woke up the morning I was leaving and it was absolutely beautiful and forecasted to stay that way all week. I'm not bitter.

Looking down the Aare towards Eiger and Niesen (mountains in the background).



My deal with myself is that I'm allowed to return to all these places I love as long as I see some place or thing I haven't seen before. This trip, I decided to visit Lugano in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. This was the only sun I saw the entire time I was there until, you guessed it, the day I left. Seriously, not bitter at all.


The rain was so awful one morning that I stayed in bed instead of going for breakfast. The dining hall was outside in an old converted barn and it was raining so hard that the trees just 15 feet from the French doors were just shadows. Warm bed and a book trumps swimming to breakfast any day.

The view from my friend's balcony in St. Gallen. To the right of the house you can see the line of white markers. That's a firing range for the Swiss Army. Because of that, no building is permitted on this field. Given that the range is only in use three or four times a year, it means that the field is a giant playground for all the neighbourhood kids. Hard to believe this is a 10 minute walk from the centre of town!



My favourite part about visiting Basel is walking across the border to Germany just because I can.

Basel City Hall.


 The cloisters at the church.



On my way back to my friends in Elfingen, I decided to make a stop in Rheinfelden. I had heard that it was a quaint town, it has a fantastic brewery just on the edge of town, and I could do the annoying thing of walking back and forth across the bridge between two countries.

The town was adorable and I wish I had given myself more time to explore instead of leaving it as an afterthought on my way home.


When you visit the Roman ruins in Brugg, you cheer for the non-existent gladiators. That's just a fact.


One of my friends and I spent the day at Habsburg Castle. That's right. Austria's most powerful family were actually Swiss. Boo-yah! The family took their name from this castle which remained in their possession until the mid 1400s when the lands and castle were taken by the Swiss. The family had already shifted to Vienna as their power base about a century before so it wasn't a huge loss to them, but I hope it irked them. The castle that gave them their last name forever in the hands of the democratic and independent Swiss. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! The castle affords lovely views of the surrounding areas and has a breath-taking collection of china. We may have wandered into an out-of-bounds area where they were setting up for a black-tie dinner.


The Swiss parliament buildings in Bern. Bern is usually listed as the capital of Switzerland but, fun fact, Switzerland doesn't have an official capital! Switzerland is a confederation with equal power sharing between all the cantons*. Bern becomes the de facto capital, however, as it is home to the parliament buildings and most of the government offices.

(*They have a federal counsel that are elected by the Federal Assembly to a four year term but rotate their positions on the counsel every year so none of them hold power for the entire term.)


Looking up Kramgasse towards the Zytglogge. (I love Swiss-German. That would be Zeitglockenturm in "real" German.) The old town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage site. With its covered arcades, hundred-odd fountains, and cobblestone streets, it is just so darn beautiful. And I hate it because my first 24-hours in Bern were awful and I vowed to dislike it forever. But it's winning me over.

Stupid pretty Bern.


Back in Thun on a bridge crossing the Aare. Thun will forever and always have a piece of my heart.


Crossing the Panoramabrücke and looking back at Sigriswil. Sigriswil is yet another part of Switzerland that will forever have a piece of my heart. Long after the Hostettlers have moved on from this area, I'll be coming to visit. Crossing the bridge, sitting under the oak tree at the look out, mailing letters at the post office and saying 'I once knew the Postmaster here'.


Ah, Swiitz! Ik hab Di gärn. (Switzerland. I love you.)