Whew, back from Virginia Beach and now to prep for Geneva…

As many of you well know, I tend to have a rather ridiculously busy travel schedule in the summer months. This summer is no exception of course and while travel does tend to get in the way of thesising and RA work and my part time job and, well all the trappings of home, I do rather enjoy it — it would just be a lot easier if it were more spread out rather than all concentrated in a few months spate of time… oh well.

In any case I spent last week in Virginia Beach, VA for the 11th annual CKI Large Scale Service Project (my 9th) and the 56th CKI Convention. It was as usual a mix of fun, stress, business, and pleasure and much more. I spent a lot of time trying to work to encourage CKIers to fix problems (whether in CKI or in Kiwanis), catch up with old friends and newer acquaintances, and did actually get to enjoy the beach. One morning I walked for an hour and a half down the beach for example, and I did relax in the ocean for a bit (too shallow to really swim where I was, and I wasn't about to go too much further alone, it being the ocean and me knowing better — particularly as I'm supposed to set a good example and all that jazz).

The food was mixed. It being on the ocean I ate a lot of fish. But it being the United States, it was a mixed bag of awesomeness alternately with mediocre dishes. But no food poisoning this time, just vegetable deprivation on a day or two of my trip — so that wasn't half bad, really.

The hotel itself was decent — but the hallways were a bit narrow for a convention of our scale. Attendance was up from recent years however, and first time attendance seemed pretty good! I was also impressed that we had so many CKI members in attendance from Western Canada this time (disappointed with the attendance from the rest of the subregion but hey, you win some you lose some, right?

Audit prep at work is ramping up — we wrote our tentative August schedule this week, so hopefully that goes well in preparation. I really hope I can manage to not work TOO much in August due to having RAwork and thesis work to catch up on by then. Hopefully I'll get some more RA work and thesis work done this week actually before jetting off to Geneva.

Speaking of Geneva, I should go to the bank and pick up the currency I requested. Yikes!

Getting ready for another CKI trip (and yet another Red Eye flight)

So tomorrow night I depart once more for the United States. It'll be my 9th CKI LSSP and International Convention. I'm looking forward to it of course (as always), but perhaps not in the same way as I used to. Still it'll be fun and it'll be my first trip to the state of Virginia among other things! As draining as these events are, I also find them energizing particularly as I spend so much time with excellent service minded people.

This week's been an entertaining one:

I got a dental splint (to cut down on my tooth damage due to grinding) which is much easier to deal with than I thought it would be.

I was inducted into my second Kiwanis club (which was inevitable and I was very much looking forward to it). I guess I'm a member of more than two clubs now too but those are my two main clubs so that's nifty.

I took First Aid (yet again) and managed to get 100% on the multiple choice exam and no real criticism on my practicals. The instructor was impressed by me which I thought was pretty neat too.

I watched Lady Gaga's Monster Ball concert HBO special with my mom. Gosh those are some interesting costumes!

I visited Fort Saskatchewan twice, and helped Mom declutter the mess of technology that was around the house — JD made a computer for my parents too (as theirs was broken)!

I was evacuated from an area of a building (as there was a potentially explosive substance there — it really was inert I think and not a hazard, but the campus police still needed to deal with it).

And I guess I did a bunch of other things too. Tomorrow my plan is to pack, watch a movie, do laundry, catch up more on online things (and perhaps get some more paid work done if I'm lucky), and well yeah get to the airport at a reasonable time. We'll see how this goes!

Writer's Block: Globetrotting

This summer, as much as I would adore this country to be Switzerland (since I am going there), and that country is pretty high on the list… I think ultimately it would be very neat to go visit Japan — particularly as it would be very expensive otherwise.

So, I'm home!

And that wraps up another year's trip to Victoria. Next year, I think I'd like to take GIS — I should have some data for that by then anyway — and go once more to DHSI. But in the meantime, I've arrived back at home, and I'm pretty happy for it.

After I checked out from residence, I met up with Matthew, Tessa and Magda and we went to lunch at a restaurant called 5th Street I think? Something like that. Regardless the food was very delicious. I had this wonderful Cinq Fromaggio Pizza with not only 5 cheeses, but walnuts, pear slices, and grapes. It had white sauce and was rather delicious.

The afternoon included playing two board games: 7 Wonders and Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries. I rather liked both games — they were each of reasonable length, had great game mechanics and were great fun! 🙂

We also spent a lot of time talking, catching up and entertaining/being entertained by Magda.

They gave me a ride to the airport where I ate dinner at White Spot (tempura asparagus, salmon, veggies and sauce, rice, parsley etc.) it was quite delicious.

My flight home was on time — early actually. And then I was home. And it feels damn good to be home. 🙂 JD and I shared some Rogers Chocolates that I brought home. And I got to sleep in my own bed (which is immesurably better than residence beds). I get just over a week at home before I head off to Virginia Beach.

How could a trip like this to Victoria not be fabulous?

Well, Thursday was the last FULL day of classes (yesterday classes ended in early afternoon), and so after class, I met up with Patrick for dinner at one of his favorite Vietnamese restaurants on Fort Street, called Saigon Night. He ordered all of his favorites, so I got to eat a bunch of really great Vietnamese dishes I hadn't yet tried. Definitely good food! In the evening Colette and I met up to watch a movie at the Cinecenta in the SUB at UVic: Of Gods and Men. It was a very thought provoking film, definitely hard to watch at times (we both needed to chat to decompress afterward before bed), and a relatively long one. It's in French predominantly, with English subtitles.

Yesterday was the last day of class, and so we spent the morning in the (superly out of date) computer lab before the wrap up session. Then Dan, Ashley and I went to Rebar for lunch (after stopping by his family's AWESOME house), browsed a bookshop and then went to Beacon Hill Park to walk around. After climbing some rocks, walking paths and whatnot (and watching the peacocks and peahens cross the street), we walked the breakwater at Ogden Point. It was literally a perfect day for this!

Dan dropped Ashley and I off downtown where we thought about going to the museum (thought better of it though), walked through some shops, and admired displays in windows before going once more to Sen Zushi (heck we like the place. It's good food and incredibly delicious fish!) for dinner. Later in the evening Ashley and I met up once more to watch Limitless at Cinecenta. This film was really thought provoking in a completely different way! A more action packed, pseudo (and real-ish) science filled thriller, the film really made one think of perception, illegal (and less illegal) drugs, city life, alcohol, power struggles, the stock market and much much much more. This was definitely a very well crafted film, not to mention the fact that I felt pretty invigorated afterward.

Today, my last day here in Victoria, I ate breakfast, packed and will check out of residence before heading out to see friends and head to the airport. It's really been a great trip (better than last year's in some ways, I think more balanced time-wise), and while I will get home to a zillion things to do what with thesis, school work, RAwork, and prepping for CKI convention in Virginia Beach, I think that the tasks are generally accomplishable!

Victoria Adventures

There are so many tasks I could be doing now, but I choose this one: writing a bit of a summary of what I've been doing these last few days (other than using Foursquare and Twitter to the hilt that is).

The last time I wrote was before meeting up with the bulk of people on this trip or doing much of anything of note. Well, Sunday, I met up with my friend Scott and we walked down to Tuscany Village where I ate Ali Baba Pizza and drank a Starbucks strawberry smoothie as we talked and caught up in the very nice warm sunshine. I rather had a good time though I did manage to somewhat sunburn myself (it's pretty much better now — a deep tan, mostly to my left arm, part of my legs and a little sliver of skin near my neck). I didn't realize just how damaging the sun had been until my walk back to the University campus.

Later in the evening, after an adventure trying to find each other, I met up with Callie and joined her and her husband Joel for an absolutely delicious dinner at their cozy home. We ate out on the patio where the hummingbird and squirrel provided entertainment. I rather enjoyed the delicious meal: salad, nasi gorang, rubarb crisp, and peppermint tea. We also played a great card game that I had never had the pleasure of playing before, Mag Blast (and I'm not just saying it was a great game because I won, either). Joel did a great job explaining the instructions and we had a good time.

Monday began classes for the week, and in the evening there was the opening reception at the Bard and Banker. The hockey game was on but the Canucks lost abysmally. We ended up with some appetizers and then ordered oyster burgers and mussels for dinner (the salad was perhaps the best part). Afterward we walked about downtown, and I picked up an expansion to a board game (finally got the red deck for Killer Bunnies!), and a wonderful thesis motivator that looms over me, even now: a Giant Microbe! I got the large version (as it was at a great discount) and it will be hopefully a great motivator to work on my project, now that H.I.V. is a huge part of my area of study.

Tuesday lunch was the grad student lunch so that was pretty great — I'm glad I arrived early enough to get well fed. In the evening, we went to Sen Zushi for one of the most delicious sushi dinners I've had in a long long time. The fish was absolutely fabulous: I had Tenzaru Soba and a Sashimi Salad (which had large pieces of sashimi on top of a salad with dressing to dip the salad in!). A great red bean dessert topped off a good meal. We also walked around a bit, I picked up a neat necklace (50% off) that I wore all day today, and Ashley did some successful shopping.

Today we stayed closer to campus. We walked to Sampan Chinese Seafood Restaurant in the evening (well, we could have watched the Canucks, but they lost so badly last time… and again this time *sighs*) and ate Seafood and Tofu Hot Pot along with some shredded duck and vegetable dish. Very delicious. Ashley took advantage of the Blockbuster going out of business sale for some cheap beverages (junk food and beverages are 50% off just as the movies are!). It was a good walk (9km round trip I think). I'm happy to have gotten some exercise!

As for the course, I'm learning a bit about Radiant CMS, Fabulator, and coding I guess. This is one area where my attention to rules is quite valuable as I'm occasionally in the position where I can help my fellow students in the class. It's hard to believe the class is more than half done now though, gosh time flies! Tomorrow I have plans to meet up with a friend, Friday I will hang out with the University of Alberta folks again, and Saturday I will spend time with another friend to round out the more enjoyable aspect of the trip. As for getting thesis work done — I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I think I'll get a bit further with it when I get home most likely if not a bit more done here. I have been sending RAship emails while here, and otherwise staying busy with school-related stuff outside of this course as well, so it is not like I'm getting horribly behind (I hope!).

In Victoria again… and enjoying it!

So, as you may surmise by my title here, I have once again begun my crazy summer travel schedule. Like last year, I'm attending DHSI (Digital Humanities Summer Institute) in Victoria. This time I'm taking a course on Data Discovery (last year's class was on Project Management).

Yesterday I arrived, following a 1.5 hr delay (1hr delay on the plane arriving in Edmonton, half an hour delay while we were on the runway as it happened again) due to radar outages. The pilot asked us to write our MLAs if we wanted to complain. Essentially more than one plane cannot land nor depart without radar at the International Airport, so this slowed things down considerably.

Once here, I took the shuttle to campus, got settled in my residence room (same building as last time, different wing! I actually really like my room though my other room had the Ethernet cord plug in in a more optimal location. I wish that my netbook better loved the wifi here, because it would make things a whole lot simpler — but whatever, Ethernet works fine too. I could have just brought a longer Ethernet cord, but I really don't think a 50 foot cord is optimal for traveling.

As for the rest of my day yesterday, it consisted of two things: firstly I text messaged or called a bunch of folk who are either living here or who I know were here, and secondly I took the bus down to Willows Beach for the Oak Bay Tea Party. One of the first things I did there was meet up with some of the Oak Bay Kiwanians who were running the tea house there — it's their one fundraiser and they put SO MUCH work into it. I ate a hotdog, had some good conversations and watched a relative of one of the Kiwanians enjoy the rides and games (she was a great kid!). Then I walked the beach, wrote a bit, and essentially enjoyed Twitter and whatnot before deciding I needed at least SOME exercise, and so I walked back to campus. For most of my walk I could hear open air music of some sort playing, so that was kind of nice — good songs in any case. The weather was absolutely perfect (unlike Edmonton, so I hear).

I ended up in bed early (I was absolutely exhausted), and up this morning early to eat breakfast (not as pleased with breakfast as I was last year at this point, but it's not bad either). And now, I'm just catching up on things online. I might actually get some work done, but we'll see. I imagine that the fact that I'm brainstorming ideas and thinking thesis nearly all of the time helps regardless of whether I actually get much done in actuality so there's that at least.

My first fender bender… on a bike!

Well as you may well know, I don't drive. So it's not entirely unsurprising that my first bent fender is going to be on my new bike… but well… I guess the bike is getting very well broken in!

You see we were returning from a wonderful dinner at Daawat (thanks to a soon to expire Groupon — fortunately I've managed to use all the Groupons I've purchased), when just as I was leaving the high level bridge, near the entrance to the Legislature grounds a young man (well he seemed rather young) talking away on his cell phone, not entirely paying attention to where he was going on his bike, comes out of the Legislature South grounds and while he appears to be attempting to stop his headlong pace biking into me, he certainly did not succeed (he would later explain that he had no rear brakes).

Yes, we collided, and I became very thankful for my helmet, my bike gloves, and the fact that I fell rather safely all things told. His bike tire did bend my fender, sent my tire out of true (JD fixed it as best as he could this evening), and the fall scratched up my gear shifter.

I on the other hand have a painful swollen left big toe with a messed up dirty toenail, a very sore right wrist (yeah, I hurt that which was already causing me pain… great.), some scrapes and lost skin and temporarily I had an imprint of the bike chain on my leg. I had a good long bath this evening, but I imagine I'll still be in a fair amount of pain in the morning.

On the less than awesome side though — I'm not in the mood to get much work done at this stage — the pain is distracting. Tomorrow morning, I guess!

In any case I'm happy that the accident (the first time I've ever collided with anyone on my bike) wasn't any worse. It felt like it was in slow motion, and really, I'm glad that I had managed to nearly stop by the time he plowed into me, so that the fall wasn't any worse.