Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer vacay is on the wayyyyy

This post was drafted July 30, but for some reason my internet was freaking out and wouldn't post. I"m not going through and fixing all the tenses and dates, so just pretend like it's three days ago, okay? Thanks.

Wow - I am so looking forward to my two blissful weeks of vacation scheduled to begin at approximately 5 p.m. on Friday, August 7.

Just what will we be doing on said vacation? A lot. In fact, we may even need one of those vacations from our vacation that I hear people mumbling about every so often.

On Saturday I'll drive to Calgary in the Rav (note to self: get Kelsey to make amazing playlist and burn to MP3) and then spend Sunday prepping for the arrival of Brodie's mom and dad from PEI. They arrive in Calgary on Monday and will depart from Kelowna on Aug. 13. After a few days in Calgary, we'll take them to Banff where they'll stay with Brodie's sister and brother-in-law before the six of us head to B.C. to spend time on with my parents and grandparents on the houseboat. It should be nothing but glorious, as long as the weather holds.

(Okanagan Valley, photo: Robert Leon)

We're planning to camp in Clearwater with my parents for a few days once Brodie's parents head back to the island and then we'll spend four days basking in the Okanagan summer....golfing, beaching, visiting with old friends, etc. Sounds strenuous, doesn't it?

With everything that's going on at work, it will be nice to put it all aside for a couple of weeks. Once our vacation is over in BC, we'll head back to Calgary to attend Laura and Tyler's wedding before I head back up north to prepare for the winter.

I hope you all have some kind of rest and relaxation programmed into your summer calendars.

Enjoy the heat and the water while it lasts, my friends.

See some of you soon. xoxo


Monday, July 27, 2009

Judgey McJudgerson

Fine, I’ll admit it. I’m a judger.

Today, I’m in a particularly judgmental mood. This is mainly because I’ve been traveling for most of the day and am playing one of my favourite traveling games: Spot the Fort McMurray-destined passenger(s). I wish I could come up with a more succinct name for this game, but so far I’ve been SOL.

Since I moved to Fort McMurray last year, I’ve claimed that there is no place like it on earth. It has quirks and idiosyncrasies you won’t find anywhere else on the planet.

One of these odd-ball traits is the people it attracts.

After I teach you about the traits of a Fort McMurray-destined passenger, I guarantee you’ll be able to walk up and down any airport wing in Canada and identify the departure gate for Fort McMurray.

Drawing on my personal experience and the experience of my friends and colleagues, I’ve come up with he following list of items to help you pick out the people headed for Tar Sand Land.

1. Outerwear labeled with any of the following company names: Suncor, Syncrude, CNRL, Albian, LongLake and/or Total. Outerwear includes, but is not limited to, ball caps, jackets, golf shirts, hoodies, backpacks and/or toolboxes.

2. A triple denim combo (aka the 3D ensemble which likely includes jeans, shirt and jacket worn at the same time). In many cases the denim will be extremely light in colour (thank you to Jesse Hall for this submission...and for complaining when I didn't give full credit when I first posted).

3. Camo gear: while this is more likely to occur in the fall and winter months, it can also be spotted in the summer months.

4. Any piece of the aforementioned clothing paired with a motocross, ATV or Sledding magazine.

5. Steel-toed workboots with cargo shorts of any type. The boots are normally black, brown or tan in colour, cover the ankle and have a heavy sole.

6. Men with a slightly “dirty” appearance. These people will probably be wearing one or more pieces of the clothing outlined above and will look as though they could never quite be scrubbed clean, regardless of the number of showers they take.

7. Tattoos. Now you may be saying “that can hardly be a Fort McMurray identifier”. But, stay tuned my friends. You want to look for the ones that look like they were completed in maximum security prisons. They may have spelling mistakes or may not be legible due to blurred ink.

8. Lack of females (and old people). You can quickly spot the Fort McMurray departure gate by looking for the one with the highest ratio of males to females. In my experience, the ratio is typically 15 to 1, or more. The old person ratio is about 60 to 1.

9. A language that sounds like an awkward combination of Scottish, Irish and English and is extremely difficult to decipher. If you hear the word “Byes” or an alarming number of verbs ending in ‘s’, you have found the spot! At any Fort McMurray departure gate you will find a large number of Newfoundland-born travelers. Keep your ears tuned in for the following phrases: “I loves me some cod cheeks”, “Where you to?”, and “Whatta ya’at?”

10. And finally, the last thing that should help you spot the FMM-destined traveler: serious conversations about cold hard cash. The men will likely be trying to out-dollar one another by comparing hourly wage rates, the number of overtime hours they work and how much their last pay cheque added to their bank accounts.

Side note: Another trait that didn't quite make the list, but definitely deserves an honourable mention: mustaches.

Now that I’ve shared the secrets of the trade, I challenge you to head out to your local airport and spot the gate!

Other fun places to play: airport restaurants, check-in lines and flights you know connect to Fort McMurray flights.

Good luck!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Swapping blogs

Okay everyone, we might be a day late, but my blog swap partner Mai, of "Maisquared", and I have finally exchanged posts. As Mai describes below, we both decided to focus on our respective "current places of residence". Enjoy, my friends (and thanks, Mai). You can find my piece here: Blog Swap

My 2nd 20sb blog swap! Yay! Thanks Lanette for your great piece about Fort McMurray, Alberta for my own blog! For this 20sb blog swap we decided to talk about our respective homes to give our audiences different insight .

In one month I will be an Austin resident for one full year. In the year that I’ve lived here I’ve been able to explore a lot about myself, but sadly not a lot about the actual city I’ve lived in. Ever since I was born, I’ve lived all over the world from Bruxelles to Manila, Bahrain to Beaumont, and Boston to Austin. All these cities have made up pieces of my personality so it should be fitting that a city like Austin would influence my core as I begin to experience my 20s in the vibrant city that is Austin.

When I decided to move away from Boston (where I went to college), I looked for a city that had the same feel and personality as Cambridge, MA (home to MIT/Harvard). Rich with diversity and culture, community/political involvement, vibrant music scene and relatively cheaper than other major cities--Austin was the place for me!

I travel a lot for work but Austin already feels like home to me. Of course there are times where I complain about loneliness on my blog, but in all honesty I am the one to blame for being such a hermit. Austin has a lot to offer and my goal for the summer was to explore it in all it’s summery glory!

To give you a sense of what it is like here I thought I’d give you tour of my city via blog. This would be where I would take you if you were one of my guests here in Austin!

The day after I returned from my summer tour, I experienced the amazingness that is Barton Springs! For those of you who don’t know, Barton Springs is this amazing natural spring in Austin that stays 62 degrees year round. This is the perfect cure for triple digit heat! It’s a weird natural pool that endangered salamanders found ONLY in Austin call home. It looks like a pool but it’s ALL natural! In the deeper parts of the pool you can touch long pond grass and in the shallower parts, are algae covered rocks.

After an early morning/afternoon dip at Barton Springs we’d head over to Sno Beach- the BEST sno cone place ANYWHERE. It isn’t just pieces of lumpy ice, it is shaved ice and more than that it isn’t one syrupy mess. Everything just melts in your mouth beautifully!! I consider myself a sno cone connoisseur, and even though I haven’t lived here long, I’ve tried out about 7 sno cone places in Austin and no place can make a sno cone like Sno Beach. It’s a nice $2 treat (and that’s WITH extra cream on top) and sometimes this is the budget treat I give myself when I can’t shop at Anthropologie.

We’d head back out towards South Congress also known to locals as SoCo. SoCo is where it’s at during SXSW if you want to avoid busy 6th street but still want to catch great music. The street is concentrated with local boutiques, restaurants and airstream eateries (where else can you eat out of a bevy of airstreams?!?) Good eats can definitely be found on this street! Photos compliments of my friend Stefanie (


I love the sense of community that is here in Austin. People love going out, listening to music and experiencing all that is Austin. People support local businesses here and I rarely ever go to fast food chain when there’s such a great selection of local restaurants and even local fast food places in town.

After a stroll down SoCo, I’d drive you to The Cathedral of Junk! The best personification of Austin’s motto “Keep Austin Weird.” Photos Here


After exploring some amazing treasures, it may be time for an early dinner in historic Hyde Park. Hyde Park Bar & Grill for my meat eating friends (serves great veggie options for me too!!) or Mother’s CafĂ© for my vegan/vegetarian friends. People here love their food, our local farmers market may be small but people here eat organic all the time! Local restaurants serve the best ingredients and take pride in their food. Dessert at Quack’s Bakery for their fine cake slices, cupcakes, cookies or Dolce Vita for amazing gelato.

After dinner, we’d hit one of Austin’s hundreds of local venues for some live music. If it’s Monday, TC’s Lounge on the east side of Austin is where it’s at! They have amazing live blues and the owner always cooks up something nice, complimentary as part of the $5 cover! After a few drinks down on 6th street (a great place to people watch), time to head home!!!

Austin is everything I wanted in a city, and I’m so glad to be able to call it home. It’s hard to explain but Austin is way more than a city, it’s an entire culture separate from Texas and anywhere else I’ve been to in the entire country (and I’ve been to A LOT). Thanks for letting me take you on a tour of Austin via blog! Thanks Lanette!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blog swap

Just wanted to let you know that I'm participating in a blog swap. This means I put together a post for someone else's blog (with whom I was randomly paired up through Twenty Something Bloggers) and the someone else is drafting a post for my blog.

Look for the post here by the end of tomorrow. You'll be able to find the post I wrote at: If it's not there when you check, make sure you check back.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My summertime BFF

You can't beat a Starbucks iced mocha in the summer, even when the FMM Starbucks workers forget the whipped cream.

That's what you get when you have Safeway employees working the 'bucks.

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Someone looooooves me!!!

Love you, too Brod!

Thank youuuuu.


Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Friday, July 3, 2009

From the Vancouver Island to the Alberta Highland, 'cross the prairies, the lakes to Ontario's towers...

In a departure from my regular rants about transit experiences and simple recollections of the day's or week's happenings, I've decided to dedicate this post to the greatest nation on Earth, my dear, sweet Canada. I probably should have posted this on July 1, but better late than never.

First of all,I want everyone to know that I don't think our country is perfect, nor do I encourage everyone from all around the globe to pack up their worldly possessions and head our way. Rather, I want to express my love for a country that has shown me nothing but limitless opportunities and freedom to do what I want (PS - if that phrase is redundant, I don't care. It sounds nice.)

I could sit here and come up with a 100 things I love about Canada list, but I'll save the lists for another day and force myself to write a little more eloquently.

As a Canadian, I have felt the powerful surge in my chest as 'Oh Canada' blasted from my local arena speakers when the hockey team took the ice for an important playoff game, and from the PA system in elementary school when we were expected to tuck our chairs into our desks and stand neatly behind them, singing, and from the television as I sat fixated on the Canadian Olympic teams standing atop the podium.

As a Canadian, I have flown across the skies from one side of the country to the other, watching beneath me, the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the rich fields of the prairies, the forests of Ontario and the rusty sands of Prince Edward Island.

As a Canadian, I have worked hard for everything I have. My first job, at 15, had me pumping gas at 'Canada's gas station' so I could buy my first car - a 1987 Ford Mustang LX. When I graduated, I jumped provinces and held three jobs in preparation for University. While I might long for the European post-secondary education systems funded by the governments, I am proud to say that I put myself through school.

As a Canadian, I take solace in knowing I can fall ill, have an accident or seek medical treatment without having to worry about my insurance--even though I might have to wait for hours, days or even months for certain treatments.

As a Canadian, I am thankful that I can put six bills in my wallet and know which one is which without having to read the numerals in the upper right corner.

As a Canadian, I appreciate the freedom I have to practice any religion I want, even though I don't actively practice any of them.

As a Canadian, I love the fact that I can travel around the world (even though I haven't) and know that I will be welcomed with open arms.

As a Canadian, I say to all of you: Stop. Take a look around and appreciate the beauty and the freedom we enjoy every single day.

Happy Belated Canada Day.

Fun Canadian Facts:

1. Canadians eat more Kraft Dinner per capita than any other nationality
2. The baseball glove was invented in Canada in 1883
3. With only three people per square kilometer, Canada has the fourth lowest population density in the world.
4. We have a beaver as our national animal. How dirty amazing is that?