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 Main | Arlington | Vancouver : NOV.07 | Eclectic

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Month of Thanks-giving.

E takes a long walk checking out scenery and shopping on the first fully sunny day since arriving. This path right along the south side of English Bay is quickly becoming a favorite.

View of downtown Vancouver, part of Stanley park, and a bit of Kitsilano beach from E's favorite walking path.



Hurrah, our things have cleared customs. Now we wait for delivery from the moving company...not until Wed.

Quick - how many g (grams) of deli treats do you to buy? Well how many if you want around half a pound or quarter of a pound? We're learning all kinds of conversions on the fly, not just the centigrade to farenheight. A 70 km/hr speed limit is fast or slow for a semi-residential neighborhood? Is your drive to work less than 15km? What about the price of gas at $1.019 per litre (is that cheap or expensive relative to US...turns out to be about $4.05/gal). Sure it's cheaper than the $1.049/liter down the way. How many litres will your car hold, is it full? Fast, don't calculate, just gut sense?

Though E is ill with a stomach flu (or food poisoning?) our things arrive amid drizzle, carried up 3 flights of stairs. Oy! The movers give T "a 5 min.break" to check on E. Hmm. Now that the boxes are here, can we and they both fit? Will we ever see the floor or any other surface again? Hmmm...too much stuff have we!!! Chaos ensues.

Most things arrive intact and what doesn't is quite odd - T's bike brake (just one side on the front) is shorn off. A bookshelf support is bent and wooden uprights are stained with strap grease (?). A stone bookend broke at a glue seam, and a small flea-market night-table leg cracked. If this is the extent of damage then we're golden. Still unpacking, true, but so far so good... aside from the frequent "we brought this? huh?" and "why did we leave that" banter.

Next time we'll do it 'better'. Yeah, right (probably not). :)


E attends a volunteer info. session at the UBC Sustainability Office. OMG! They're doing what one wishes for from Universities and more. Their success with energy efficiency over the last decade has perfectly positioned them for the Climate Change initiative they've begun. E hopes to get more involved with the group.

T departs for Italy. E wishes it was more affordable to join him.

T arrives in Frankfurt and connects from Frankfurt to Milan/Malpensa and then through to Palermo, the largest airport on the island of Sicily. Its been a long trip; the driver who meets him at the arriving airport claims not to speak much English. So T watches the Mediterranean fade into darkness as the car waves its way up the mountain to the town of Erice. The final 1000m of vertical climb are insane; the driver takes hairpin turns at 60 km/h and as the car careens from corner to corner, T focuses on the his shoes and braces himself. *whew* A safe arrival in a strange old Italian town of extremely narrow streets.

Veteran's Day is observed in the U.S. Here it is a national holiday, but it's called Remembrance Day. All the Canadians wear bright red plastic poppy flowers that they have purchased with donations to charities for veterans. There's even a famous poem that is recited all over the country about Flanders and some special contingent of Canadian soldiers that stood fast in WWII just after D-Day and contributed to an Allied victory. It is sincere and touching. Learn more about Canadian Remembrance or Poppy Day.// The scale of Canadian involvement in international conflict must be weighted by the size of the country, though. Canada has lost a total fo 50 soliders in the Global War on Terror so far. The USA has easily seven times that. But...the USA is ten times as populous!

E finally feels an interest in food again rather than being revolted at the idea. She cooks her first parsnip (EVER), along with some beets and other root vegetables. Yum!

Unpacking proceeds in fits and starts.

A few photos from T's time in Sicily, courtesy Japanese colleague Youhei.

Erice was built originally as a temple to a godlike son of Venus. The city stands atop a mountain and has a castle at one side overlooking the plains far below.

T stayed at the Ettore Majorana Centre for Science and Culture, an old converted convent with weird hallways and very high-ceilinged rooms.

The convent had a courtyard.

T hard at work in a shiveringly cold room.

One the one afternoon of free time, T and colleagues took a gondola down from Erice to the seaside town of Trapani, massing over villas of local mafiosos. At Trapani, T had a killer good lunch with squid the size of his head that were perfectly prepared and some fresh basil that could strike a man down at 10 paces. A rainstorm sprang up and they shut down the gondola...so T and friends had to take shelter in a public washroom while waiting for the Centre to send down a van.
T returns from Sicily late in the day. We make our first Craigslist purchase.




E makes an incredible dinner with our newly unpacked kitchen. Sauteed kale with garlic and balsamic vinegar to accompany a shrimp-creole recipe (from JaniceP) over steamed rice. TASTY! The cajun/creole spice is just right with a ramping hot flash midway through the meal...T tries to make a chocolate cake from a Betty-Crocker mix and fails utterly. One of us wears the chef-pants in this family! And, welcome back, kitchen! With Tivo slightly resuscitated, we watch a few episodes of "The Singing Bee" from earlier in the season. E should be on the show!

Today dawns with frost! Penelope reports 34 degF on the way to the office, which is some small number of degrees Celsius (almost 0, eh?). Despite everyone who says the math is easy to convert between the two, it just ain't natural to us. We just realized late last night why all the thermostat controls were numbered with such low ordinal units. 30 degC is pretty toasty! Our ability to control the temperature is pretty limited, though. There are several controls in each room, a whole-house timer, and several old-fashioned mercury-style thermostats. What controls what?! We turn on our electric fireplace (a clever device that uses a mirror and a rotating shaded light to cast "flames" behind a set of ceramic lights that have a red light bulb inside. How crazy is that!

Today we try to get the car inspected by the province. E learns the auto-shop owner who drools over Toyota's Prius and the company in general, is a surfer and they exchange interest. During the inspection E jots over to get her SIN (like SSN in the U.S.) In and out in 25 min. flat with recommendations on the job search services and office locations to boot. Woah! They were pleasant and efficient. Oh, and why do we in the U.S. think it will be so hard for the government to provide services in mult. languages such as English and Spanish? Here every material is printed English on one side French on the back. Not like the U.S. needs to reinvent the wheel or anything. I know, I know it's a different social/political issue but still...

We realize that we really do live in another country. Weeks before the move, we learned that our good friend the United States Postal Service was unable to forward mail to an international address. Another good friend of ours, CK, volunteered to be the recipient of our forwarded mail so that he could then physically re-mail the items to our Vancouver address. Without seeing another option, we accepted his offer. Turns out that first shipment he sent us is "lost in the mail!" And since the two national postal systems (Canada Post and USPS) have no incentive for receiving and delivering mail across the border, the package is pretty much gone. Amazing! The US says Canada has it, the Canadians say that the US has it, and then everyone points to Canadian Customs which says that they don't have it! Because we didn't pay for delivery tracking and have only the customs declaration number, the package is as good as gone, gone, gone. Infuriating! We decide that we're going to have to take our postal business elsewhere. Other than good sense, what reason does the USPS have for ensuring that mail sent to Canada gets there? If we used a third-party business, they'd care because they would be pushing mail across the border and then pulling it through customs to delivery! So since we're dealing with the interface of two relatively self-contained and independent systems, we're screwed. FUDGE. And to top it off, all the folks E consulted were rude, selfish, and bastages.

Umm...(throat clearing)...the missing package of mail arrived at T's office today and we are thankful indeed. There is a check and other important notices so glad it arrived at last. Still...they system is broken when no one can tell you how it works or when to consider something awry/'lost' or how to follow-up. And all parties provide conflicting information. What happened to customer service in our country and why do people think repeating information off a public website is adding value or makes them an expert when they can't provide anything else?

It's THANKSGIVING in the U.S. (Canada's is over; it's in October on the Monday of Columbus Day weekend). We join a Meetup American Expat's potluck in Yaletown neighborhood, brand new skyscraper condo/apt building. We absorb tips and tales from Permanent Residents on the verge of Citizenship and others along the spectrum, though we're clearly the 'newbies' of the bunch. We continue our musing about Permanent Residency in the future...

We also learn that resumes and job searching will be a challenge for E here; taking on average a year for many folks to find work. Eek! 'College' means a trade school, 'TA' means did nothing rather than everything, resumes are need for jobs at Dominos (no relevance selecting, or leaving timeperiods out either!) and people stick with a single employer forever. so E's experience will need reframing for certain. Good to know!

Without traffic the roundtrip from home to T's office to home is 25 min flat. Woah! On the way back E finds fog hanging in the dips and crevices about the area, and a hoar frost has encased most surfaces making walkways and some streets quite slippery. Divine natural wonders surround us everywhere and we feel perpetually a gawk with "silly grins" on our faces, as CK predicted.

Penelope is getting "daytime running lights" today as a requirement for auto registration and insurance in B.C. Thankfully T agreed not to just superglue the lights in the 'on' position - the inspector wasn't impressed with that joking remark/idea either. The Toyota dealership actually has a brochure with routes and times, and pick-up/drop-off addresses, and connections to local transit. Huh? This is so cool! E even got door to door service since it was a slow morning.

T has a management board meeting that eats away part of the morning, but it is sunny and cold when he emerges shortly after lunch. At home, we make tremendous progress at unpacking. (Did anyone catch that? We called it "home!") The second bedroom has some floor space, the shelves are filling up, the kitchen is even more useable, the CDs are available for use, and we have found our toothbrushes.

We start the day with a yummy brunch comprised of fresh chillawack double-smoked bacon from the meat shop just up the street and some oven-poached eggs. Tasty! It is sunny and clear again and we exploit the opportunity. Failing to dress really warmly, we head outside and down to Kits Beach where we head "northish eastish" along the water front. We wend our way around the city museum and Coast Guard to arrive at the Burrard Bridge complex.

Even better, we find that Nigel's favorite fish shop, "Go Fish," is open and still serving. This is the place T has waxed on about and E couldn't find. T immediately orders two salmon tacos and a side of fries. The place is a little shack next to the water and they take the fish out of the water and straight into the kitchen. The salmon tacos are as AWESOME as T remembered, but the fries weren't nearly as good. Still, we huddle on the outside veranda in 40-degF weather licking our fingers. E is mesmerized by the tasty slaw and inquires about the ingredients which include corriander, cumin, and fennel, among other things and the thinly shredded/sliced cabbage too of course. We take note of the Go Fish motto: "Friends don't let friends eat Pharmed salmon. Everything in house is wild." This will be a definite visitor destination when we are blessed with guests.

Then we hike over to Granville Island and spend a few hours inside the public market building which is, thankfully, heated. All in all probably a 6-km walk round trip! And, E has noted it's a good surface and route for some skating/rollerblading soon.

Snow and ice! With rapidly falling temperatures, the day's rain storm turns into slushy slurpees splashed all over the cars and parking lot. A reasonable pace of traffic is enough to air-cool the mixture to ice on most cars, although the roads are mostly just wet. The temperature difference between the outlying suburbs and the downtown waterfront is enough to keep anything from accumulating. In the evening, we huddle inside and stay warm. Winter is here!

Did we mention that our telephone talks? Perhaps we're quite the pair of Luddites, but our landlord has caller-ID phone service, which is fine, but now, our telephone speaks up to announce who is calling! T's office is "Tree-ummf" and other calls are "unknown," "California," "Manitoba," "number available" and so on. Freaky the first few times, but now standard. Even "Dominos" calls when we order pizza delivery! //

We have dinner with one of the co-op students from T's office. A younger fellow but one who is passionate about politics, economics, and history. We debate the future of humanity, the nature of the human spirit, whether climate change is inevitable and everything a waste of time, and the details of carbon sequestration as only ignorant citizens can imagine. In the process the younger co-op has introduced us to a tasty dinner spot just a few blocks from home, Healthy Noodle.

E meets a second time with the UBC Sustainability Office as a volunteer. This group is working on the campus CAP (Climate Action Plan) to be presented to the Board of Directors in July 2008; today is a planning and coordination session. E is once again blown-off her rocker and impressed with every aspect of the group and its mission. She's claimed a few ad-hoc assignments and thrilled to be part of this team. Amidst the heady yet grounded discussion E's mind wanders momentarily as she puzzles whether UBC is incubating/engineering the next societal evolution by systematically attending to climate change campus wide! (akin to the PC and Internet 'generations' brewed at Stanford).

A "toque" is the Canadian word for knit hat, of almost any type. And, to us, Happy Monthly Anniversary!

Today is clear and cold after all of yesterday's rain. T hears a great radio story on the Canadian version of NPR -- CBC. The union of Victoria library workers is contesting pay equity issues and is in a "strike position," meaning that they are nearly on strike. They have recognized, though, that their wages are paid for two types of labor: physical and mental. Instead of going on a full-out labor strike, they have gone on "mental effort" strike. In particular, the library workers will now waive all overdue and late fees in exchange for a donation of food to a local charity. They'll still do physical labor, but they claim that handling overdue fine properly is over the line and they're "on strike" from doing that. The management board is outraged since the union "doesn't have the authority to waive fines" and "to take such action is illegal." The union responded by pointing out that its all part of the laws that govern labor strikes! WOW -- I like that. Let's go on "mental strike" today!

The last day of the month, and a Friday, starts out clear and cold at 28 degF. Brrrr! T considers the implications of his office hiring a professional lobbyist, E attends the first day of the LMF workshop, and we say goodbye to November. Our good friends A & P move into their new house in Arlington! Sad that we're not there to haul cardboard boxes with them.


 Main | Arlington | Vancouver : NOV.07 | Eclectic

Copyright 2007 T.I.M. & E.E.H.