Archive for January, 2012

January 10, 2012

Biodome Pictures

The Hubby and I went to the Biodome on Sunday to see the penguins. It was so much fun! I don’t have a whole lot to say about it, since it was basically 2 hours of the Hubby and I hopping from animal to animal, deciphering the French information kiosks, and squeeeing at things.  Here’s a bunch of pictures I took:

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The otters are usually my favourite exhibit at these things. They were snoozing the whole time though. I wish I had gotten a picture of the beavers, because they were pretty active. One swam right at me! And we managed to spot one of the sloths in the Tropical Room.  Sloths are another favourite of mine, but they are usually tough to spot.  The penguins were a huge highlight, and are clearly the biggest draw, as the room was full.  It’s easy to see why – the were hilarious to watch.  They defy physics to me, when they walk around and stick their wings straight behind them. It was most fun to watch them pop out of the water. The Hubby got a pretty good little video of it:

It was a really fun day. Yesterday was our 6 month wedding anniversary. We had a low-key night watching TRON and eating some cornish game hen I got at Jean -Talon yesterday. It was a nice evening to remember our awesome wedding!

-W-

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January 7, 2012

SCF Game 8

The Hubby and I had plans to go out to the Biodome today to see the penguins. Then the forecast called for freezing rain. That is the one type of weather I refuse to go into unless I have to. Photos of penguins tomorrow, I promise!

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Instead, we stayed in and streamed the Canucks-Bruins game. I’m still learning a lot about hockey, but this is perhaps one of the most ridiculous games I’ve ever watched. To make things more interesting, we happen to be getting the Boston commentary. A few gems:

-“Hansen must do some veterinary work in the off season, because he sure looked like he was practicing his neutering moves there!”
-“There are 3 players in the league whose names all start with I, and they all play for the Calgary Flames!”
-“This is why Vancouver has a reputation as one of the most despised teams in the league.”

I really hope one of the Canucks gets ahold of the neutering quote. Would make for some good locker room taunting. Also, I can think of many teams that are hated more than the Vancouver Canucks. One of them being the Boston Bruins. What a mean, intense game. I was following along on some hockey boards, and unfortunately the trash talk on either side fails to be interesting. Vancouver fans: “Wah, the Bruins are a bunch of goons”. Bruins fans: “Buh, the Canucks have no class”. I find myself falling victim to it, but the way both sides are entrenched in hatred is really irritating. I don’t like Marchand, and Horton dominated the box with all his penalties. But I also thought Weisse backing away from that fight was pretty cheap and spineless. A certain amount of hard, even questionable hits can be expected. A certain amount of cheap, sneaky dives and stick maneuvers can also be expected. It’s far more interesting to look at the individual calls. It seems like the Canucks survived 5-on-5, and really did well in the final period. They were far superior on the power play than Boston, which I think is why they won the game. But it was a close one!

Last note: Schneider scoring on himself would have been just about the funniest play in existence! I would have took the shame, and laughed so hard.

For my heart’s sake, I really hope these teams don’t make it to another Stanley Cup Final. If they do, however, HBO should seriously run a 24/7 series about them. Might trump the Canucks-Blackhawks rivalry!
-W-

January 6, 2012

A Slow Beginning

It really feels like it is still the holiday. Is that true for anyone else? At the moment, the Hubby and I are in the famine of contract work, physical exhaustion from the holiday season, and (me at least) a little bit of the flu and post-New-Year blues. I’m not sad or anything, I’m just having trouble getting motivated to tackle the tasks at hand. Taking them a bit at a time.

Task #1 for the New Year is getting on that French-learning. Having been here for a few months, I realize I need some supplementing to the “immersion”. Montreal is half-immersion, which means you learn simple basic phrases really easily, and pick up a lot of random vocabulary from marketing, but most of the population a) speaks English better than you speak French and b) relishes the opportunity to practice said English! It usually means they switch to English readily at a sign of your accent. My goal is simple – take regular French classes, participate in more conversation exchanges, and immerse in more French media.

For the classes, the Hubby and I will be registering for these courses next week. They start early, which I’m glad for, since I generally need something to kick my ass out of bed. Bonus? They are near St-Laurent, and a short bus distance away from Mile End, which  are two good locations for Friperies (thrift stores). Post-class shopping may happen… They also include free conversation workshops. I can also go to this conversation exchange website. Bonus for meeting people!

Finally, more French media. This site was recommended to me for French TV. I’ve heard that listening to the comedy is good, as it helps you get context for the humor and nuance of Quebecois culture. They also have news sites, which I find to be useful for immersion, since you have an idea of some of the vocabulary for context. I also intend to follow this dude’s recommendation and get a kids book in both English and French, and read them side by side.

Hopefully I will be able to learn enough French in the next few months to help me get a job I don’t hate. I have until September 2012. Any recommendations on other websites, programs, or exercises? Remember, cheapness is a necessity, so things like Rosetta Stone are out!

-W-

January 1, 2012

Bonne Année

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Happy New Year, everyone! Ottawa has been a blast – a good late night party last night, and a day of sleep and recovery today. We’re just lazing about watching Super 8 after all-you-can-eat sushi. My New Years goal of getting down to a tentative “goal weight” will begin when we return to Montreal on Tuesday. The food in Ottawa doesn’t conduce itself to dieting.
The weather here has dropped considerably in the last few weeks. It is the rare day that the temperature is above zero. The snow is starting to pile up. Ottawa salts a lot, which I have heard is terrible on your shoes. Luckily it seems Montreal salts less and uses gravel instead. It is more of a pain in the ass for cleaning, but less destructive.
This extreme of cold is something I have never experienced. Thursday afternoon the temperature was -18 Celsius (0 Fahrenheit) and the wind chill dropped it down to -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). Cold like that causes weird, unexpected changes in your body. A capillary in my nose broke at -15 C, and I had a small nose bleed. My poor west coast nose, what a wuss! Another weird nose-phenomenon: once you hit -10 C, any moisture in your nose freezes when you inhale. Basically it feels like you suddenly have big giant boogers in your nose. So weird.
Last Thursday was the most insane. The locks on the truck froze, and were completely encased in ice. We tried de-icer, then warming them up with a lighter. Note: de-icer is just isopropyl alcohol and ethanol, but even fuel-and-fire didn’t work! Finally, we went to Shaika and got a glass of hot water. Worked like a charm, but froze really quickly afterward. It froze so quickly, in fact, that when we threw the rest of the water out, it froze mid-air!
I’ve handled the cold pretty well, actually. I’ve got these old sweaters my grandmother made many years ago. She was a mountaineer, and the sweaters show she understood what worked for cold. Layered with thermals, a 100% wool coat, hat, scarf, and mittens, and I’m pretty tolerant of everything we’ve encountered so far. The hardest part is the face. Your face gets unbelievably cold. Luckily, after 5 minutes or so, your face is so numb it isn’t a problem.
For someone who hates cold, I am surprisingly not miserable. I would take the -18 C days over the +2 C days, no questions asked. Most days are either sunny and crisp or cloudy and snowy. Even with the gray of the clouds, the snow reflects the light. It’s much less gray than Vancouver. I can feel my body physically reacting to the light. My first winter back in Vancouver is going to be an adjustment.
Tomorrow we’re planning on going rock climbing (indoors of course). We’ll head back to Montreal on Tuesday, as there’s no snow in the forecast. Our windshield wipers are also west coast grade. They will need replacing before we are confident enough to brave the snow and crazy Québécois drivers!
I hope you all had a fun New Years Eve, and I wish you all a prosperous and joyous 2012!
-W-