green power

И пусть никто не объяснит, никто на свете не расскажет / Какой огонь в груди горит

One last email: sent out to colleagues, friends -- several hundred people yesterday (enough that the mail server thought it was spam and blocked me until it was sorted out, sigh)... so what's one more?

* * * * *

As many of you already know, I have been planning for some time to do some travelling by bicycle around the world this summer – in Russia, Europe and wherever the road may wind. My subsequent return to Canada will also see me returning to school to pursue another degree, in GIS – a discipline that I have been introduced to during my time at Alberta Wilderness Association.

Thus, it is time today for me to leave AWA and the many good friends and colleagues I have found here since first stepping through the door nearly 12 years ago. Today (March 8) is my last day at AWA, and soon it will be time for me to be a thorn in the side of some other government. (You try getting a visa to cross Russia by bike some time!)

It is hard to believe how the time can fly; I can only stare at the calendar in disbelief when I need to confirm that yes, it really has been that long. That long since I sat down to an interview with AWA’s Executive Director Christyann, and was promptly asked, noting that I might have to go out and do some fieldwork in the mountains, whether I was scared of bears.

After all the situations I have had to work through – as have we all, as members of this very dogged provincial conservation community – there have been times when I have wished for the relative straightforwardness of a simple bear encounter!

Nevertheless, this time has been endlessly rewarding, and I am grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way. I treasure the chances to share in the knowledge and experience that all of you have extended toward me at one time or another.

I find it immensely befitting that my departure should fall on the occasion of International Women’s Day, because AWA will now be in the extremely capable and talented hands of Christyann Olson, Carolyn Campbell, Joanna Skrajny, Andrea Johancsik, Esther Bogorov, Diane Mihalcheon and Cindy Ralston – our Executive Director, Conservation staff and Office staff. I can think of no stronger guarantee that, along with the guidance of our Board of Directors and the help of our many wonderful volunteers, both AWA and the broader Alberta Conservation community will continue to win the vital successes for which we have become known.

I wish everyone the very best of those successes, and look forward to keeping in contact. For my part, I will not be leaving Calgary until after the Climb for Wilderness at the Calgary Tower on April 23, and I expect to see every one of you there!

On a slightly more serious note, I do always appreciate a friendly email; I can be reached on my personal account at seanni (AT)

For a brighter, greener future,
- Sean Nichols, AWA Conservation Specialist

Posted via Vita for iPhone.
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Складываем в столбик год - Теперь могу другим об этом рассказать

So. Computer stuffs: What do?

I have wide range of options available to me when it comes to technology (as in: what technology to take with me to Russia), and then a bunch of constraints. (Money, of all things, isn’t really one of them – with one caveat that I note below. But generally, whatever ends up being the best option, I’m happy to spend what it takes to buy it.)

Basically, I’m starting from pretty much zero*, and trying to put together a suite of technology that will best suit me.

Because it’s 2016, this will most likely end up being some combination of:
  • a handheld mobile device (phone)
  • a larger mobile device (tablet)
  • a fully-functional device (laptop)
By “some combination of” I mean that these may (in fact will probably) not end up being 3 separate devices, but more likely 2 that between them cover all three bases. (Especially those last two; I’m leaning toward 1 phone and 1 tablet/laptop. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

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SO. I could go for 3 devices: an oldschool dumb phone**, a mini (7") tablet, and a straight up lightweight laptop. That’s one possibility.

But I’m leaning more towards a phone and a “super tablet.”

By “super tablet” I mean a Surface Pro.
Yeah. Microsoft. I know. Blah blah blah. Whatever.
I’ve played around with them a bit in the store and I’m actually pretty impressed. The main downside seems to be the battery life – or lack thereof (compared to some other tablets). But it’s definitely not the end of the world.

And the phone? Sigh. The aforementioned iPhone 5SE, maybe? If I can get one in the short period between when they come out and when I leave? Another possibility (also mentioned by Leanne) is the OnePlus OnePlus... which seems pretty darn cool. Although I don’t know too much beyond what’s mentioned on their website.

So... ideas?

Internet, give me your thoughts!

* So my cats used my laptop as a trampoline back in, like, last May or so, and cracked the screen. So I’ve been without a home computer ever since. I have my old grindy clanky hardware-from-ca.2002 server, and my long-in-the-tooth iPhone 4, and that’s it. Meaning that in practical terms, I really am starting from zero. Whatever I get, is not just for this trip; it would be nice if it were able to serve me for another couple of years, at least - e.g.: through my subsequent return to school. If I can install ArcGIS on the more-powerful of the devices, that would be such a goddamned bonus, you have no idea.

** I do still have my cheap-ass Wikipedia: Nokia 105 Nokia 105 that I bought in South Africa the Christmas before last for all of $15 after I lost my “primary” flip phone. I’m totally taking that with me – perfect as a backup.
evacuation plan

Не ищи меня, пропавшую без вести, - Разминулись мы с тобой не единожды

So. The ongoing saga of the Russian visa... she is ongoing.

I met with Visa Guy last Friday.

No. Back up.
I met with Visa Guy the Thursday before last.

No. Wait. From the top.

Russian visas are hard to get. At the best of times. Especially for Canadians (who the Russians do not currently much like) and an order of magnitude more so for people trying to do the kind of crazy (сумасшедший, adj.: crazy, lunatic, demented) things for which I am known, like riding a bicycle across the whole damn continent.

So I always knew that this (of all things) was going to be one of the hardest parts of the process.

Russia has a couple of different classes of visa available to Canadians.

Setting aside things like Transit, Diplomatic Visas, and some other specific-purpose ones, the easiest (by far) to get is a Tourist Visa. These are typically for 2 weeks, and max out at 30 days. Clearly no good for me. Especially because the inviter (you must be invited to receive any kind of visa) is typically either a Russian hotel or tour company, and will/can only issue visas for the precise length of time that you will be staying or touring with them.


The next easiest — in some ways — is the Частная Виза (“PrivateVisa). Maxing out at 90 days, they are for the purposes of visiting friends or relatives (who do the inviting).

Then there is the Employment Visa. You must be invited by the company for which you want to work, and they are also good for 90 days. However they can be double entry (which is to say: they can be “renewed” once, basically by leaving the country, then coming back in).

Finally there is also a variant on the Employment Visa, which I have heard called a Специальная Виза (“SpecialVisa — although I don’t know if this is an official term; I think it’s just a variant of the above). For special-purpose use, it is basically an Employment Visa that doesn’t let you take up employment. Leave it to the Russians to come up with this idea!

So my plan all along was to get a Special Visa (seemed the most appropriate). In a happy accident, there’s an optional ~185km stretch of highway (there is basically only one highway across the first ⅔ of Russia, at least as far as Omsk) that briefly dips into Kazakhstan:

So a perfect place to leave the country, come back and renew that visa, right? So anyway, this was my plan. Get the Special Visa, do the exit-reentry into Kazakhstan to give myself an extension of sorts, and thereby have 4.5 months to get across the country. (With another 1.5 months to cover the rest of Europe.) Perfect!

I had this worked out with Visa Guy back a long time ago and he passed my application along for processing on November 1st while I was all still in the middle of stressing about E.

(Visa Guy: ostensibly a travel agent, he is basically “attached” to the Russian consulate. Actually he’s more attached to ILS Canada, which is Russian Visa Application Center in Canada. According to the consulate, “the Consular Division of the Embassy of the Russian Federation accepts visa applications submitted through authorized Russian Visa Centre [ILS Canada] only.” ...and... “The visa applications submitted to the Consular Division [via any other means] will be returned without processing.” Right.)


So I met with Visa Guy the Thursday before last. At which time he broke the sad news that my application for the multi-entry visa had been rejected. Basically because I “didn’t give a good enough reason for needing one.”

Okay, fine. I can’t say I was entirely shocked. The upside, though, was that it was only the multi-entry visa that I was denied. I was still approved for a single entry. Which still would give me 90 days to cross the country.

Said country is about 9,700km across. So 9,700km in 90 days works out to something in the range of 110km a day. A little tighter than I would have liked (not much wiggle room in the case of illness, or any of the other myriad reasons I might be delayed en route) but still eminently doable.

Barrel across the country from Vladivostok to the Belarussian border in 3 months, then spend another 3 lazily twirling around central and southern Europe. Sounded like a plan!


So I met with Visa Guy last Friday. At which time he broke the sad news that no no; I had misunderstood. The consulate had not approved me for a single-entry visa. Rather they were telling me I was still eligible for same.

In other words: just because the one application was rejected, didn’t mean I was being banned outright.

But I would still have to start a brand-new application.

Sigh. One step forward, two steps back. (Russian bureaucracy, amirite?)

Which is where I am now. Except: decision time.

I don’t think the Special Visa remains the best way to go. In fact — and it is unclear to me — it may be that I’ve been rejected outright for that kind of visa altogether. Either way, if I’m not getting a multi-entry, it is less obviously advantageous. Visa Guy is basically saying “No,” anyway. So the point is moot.

Which leaves an Employment Visa or a Private Visa.

Visa Guy can get me an Employment Visa “very easy – is no problem.” But he is cautioning strongly against it. He says he can get one, and that will get me into the country with little hassle, but after that, I’m on my own. And if the police were ever to stop me (I have no doubt that they will do so, and probably often — given the circumstances) they would immediately ask for ID, passport, visa, the whole works. The next question would be the obvious: it says I’m there for business; what on earth am I doing on a bicycle in the middle of nowhere? “Nothing good comes of this,” sternly warns Visa Guy.

So, then: Private Visa!

Except... who is going to invite me? My very-distant relations, who we left behind in Russia 150 years ago, and who have only met one or two of their Canadian cousins, have yet to hear of me and my crazy idea for a vacation, and indeed probably don’t yet even know I exist?

Or... the family of one of my Russian friends here in Calgary? I have several friends who are (varying degrees of) supportive of the trip (although supportive of me in general). Of, again, varying degrees of closeness. Almost all of whom have relatives and family in Russia, and who have encouraged me to visit if/when I pass anywhere near.

Which is one thing.

But asking them to arrange an official invitation for me is quite another.

My friends themselves, sure (in some cases). But their families (who, again, have never met me)?

Either way, this is the direction I’m exploring for now. Wooing (ha) a couple of my better Russian friends, trying to bribe them with meals and exploring the possibility of getting an invitation.

But I’m running out of time here.


levez vos skinny paws...

Я не верю в твои слова, так и знай.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Russian internet radio recently (for obvious reasons).

In other news, O.M.G. is there ever a lot of insipid Russian dance-pop out there!

It’s not the kind I would normally listen to, on the whole (although there are a few songs I don’t mind, and one or two that are halfway-endearing, but by and large...). I mean, beggars/choosers, so whatever. An’ it serves its purpose, but oh sigh.

So don’t judge, etc.

The most annoying part is that after a couple months of this, I’ve actually stareted to memorize most of the songs. (Which in a sense is the point, so I can’t really complain. Kinda hard to learn vocabulary and pronounciation without learning the lyrics and tunes as a side effect.) I mean, it’s not altogether different from North American top-40 radio — in the sense that there are only a couple of dozen songs that get played on heavy, heavy rotation, being gradually phased in then out over the course of several months.

So I’ve started dreaming about these songs; hearing them in my sleep, and having them echoing in the chambers of my brain when I wake up.


(get out of my head get out of my head get out of my head)

Бум-бай, бумдиггибай-бай.
Засыпай любовь моя, засыпай...
bike basket

Now we are tall / And Christmas trees are small / And you don’t ask the time of day

С новым годом, всем!

Happy New Year to all!

As I look over my journal history, I see that it’s been the better part of a year since I last posted. Sorry, everyone, for contributing to the slow decline of LJ as a living platform, sigh. But, y’know, reasonsreasonsreasons. I was a little preoccupied for much of 2015, and frankly neglecting a lot of things.

It’s more than a little surreal looking over my last post from back in May. It seems so long ago. (Of course it was, but... well anyway.) Waxing enthusiastic about a ten-day streak that was so awesome. Little did I realize that it was just the beginning of the crazy, crazy rollercoaster ride that would be the summer of 2015. A summer that was probably the best of my life (or at least way up there).

But every piper must, in time, be paid.

So eventually it all came crashing down, and I’m just now clambering out of the wreckage. Still on a daily basis snagging myself on one of the pointy bits, and wincing in pain. But eh... it gets better, right? So enough about that.

    *     *     *     *     *

I also note with some self-recrimination that in the same post I promised a followup regarding the 2015 Alberta Election, in the immediate aftermath of which I wrote that. I recall a couple of thoughts I had on the matter, and also recall that in time I began to think better of them, believing myself to have been mistaken and deciding the point was moot. Then some time later I re-revised my opinion, thinking I was right the first time—a position bolstered by the subsequent federal election (and other factors).

Which is an awkwardly sidelong way of saying that I think those thoughts may yet be forthcoming. But they, again, constitute a post for another time. So enough about that as well.

Except to note that I remember them! (Ha.)

Things must be getting better on that front. May (and early June) are a bit hazy for me (I mean, compared to what they would have been for me once upon a time, with my previously-sharp memory) but I still remember most of the summer pretty well! Clearly my memory is improving from last year (and/or whenever), when I wrote about not being able to remember for much more than a month or two.

This is a massive, massive relief. I can be a person again!

    *     *     *     *     *

TL;DR: mumble-mumble-mumble.
On to the point, mrputter!

So I returned to work after Christmas, and to a meeting with my boss, in which she noted that I had accumulated, over time, on the order of a month of unused holiday time.

Fair enough – I wasn’t keeping close count. Mostly I was surprised, in the sense that I assumed it was a use-it-or-lose-it system, in which unused time was just gone.

But apparently not. AWA “owes me” time. Quite a bit of it. Which has suddenly become a bit of an issue as I am leaving in three months.

Well, no. Scratch that. I am now leaving in two months, and the unused time will just be tacked on to the end. Not what I was expecting, but I’m not complaining; see below.

In the meantime, I am leaving in—holyshit—two months!!

Which means that I am now existing in a state of no small amount of panic as I rush to try and get everything finished up and tied off. I have this big Excel to-do list that includes, well, pretty much everything I have to do before I leave. And I am slowly working my way through it. Speaking (as I was above) of surreal, this is pretty much that. If it’s not on the list, I...’m not going to do it?? That can’t be right, can it?

On my whiteboard at home, I also have a big to-do list of everything I have to finish off before I leave for Russia in (in this case) four months. It’s a bit daunting (in that some of those items are kinda “big”) and I’m suddenly very glad to have that unexpected month of time to mash through it:

  • Visa(s)
    Definitely playing the waiting game on this one. The application is in, haven’t heard anything back. I understand this part can take a while. (Of course, every person I talk to has a different story, but y’know...) If I don’t hear anything by, say, Feb. 1, it may be time to investigate who the right person would be to “incentivize”.
    This is for the Russian visa, конечно. I will need one for Kazakhstan, too, which I just realized I need to get started on, stat.
    The Google Maps only other country for which I will need a visa is Belarus, where by all accounts I can get one on arrival.

  • Passport
    Oh, fecking sigh. I accidentally got mine wet a couple of weeks ago. I am hoping against hope that it’s still ok to use. (Some of the ink has run a bit.) If I have to get a new one, and then restart the Russian visa process, I will be super super grumpy. Either way, I need to get to the passport office to ask them.

  • Taxes
    *cough* So I may have been a bit remiss in filing the last year or two. Have paid them though, obviously! And between my various charitable donations and my educational credits (I’m a student again thanks to Russian classes!) expect to get a fair bit of $$ back. So I’m not worried, but I should still get on it.

  • Cats
    I need to arrange for someone to take care of them (I have a couple of options—thanks to those reading this who have indicated willingness—but still need to nail it down). Also need to get pet insurance, so whomever is looking after them doesn’t get hit by a surprise $1500 dental bill like I was a couple months ago.

  • Computer
    What will I use for a computer when I’m on the road? I will be blogging of course, as I usually do. I also have a GoPro camera that fixes on to my bike, so may be taking video and/or video-blogging? We... shall see.
    But what kind of computer? Am thinking of a tablet. But still thinking. Also want something cheap enough that it’s not a major hit if/when I get mugged.
    Will also of course have my iPhone, or a (smart?) phone of some sort. The plan is just to unlock, and buy locally-usable SIM cards from the various cities as I go along. Research has independently confirmed this is the best way to do telecommunications in Russia.

  • Webspace
    I’m getting kinda tired of maintaining my own server for everything. It was fun in 1998. Less so now. Need to buy hosting somewhere (for web and mail especially, along with various “other”) and transfer my content over. While I’m at it, also need to make a bunch of updates to my blogging / bikejournal platform to cater to the trip.

  • Flights
    Duh. Of course, can’t do this until I have the visa confirmed.

  • Storage
    By which I mean, storage for all my personal belongings. At least: those not going into the trash, donated to friends/Goodwill/etc, or sold at a garage sale. Most of my stuff fits into those latter categories, but there’s still a lot I’ll want to keep. Need to research self-storage units and the like.

  • Home Fixup
    My lease ends (conveniently) on May 1, so that’s when I’m gone (if not earlier). Must clean the place – steam clean, etc. as per the lease conditions. Must also fix the various places where the cats have shredded the walls, etc.

  • Bike: Tuneup and Parts
    Another obvious one. I want to give my bike a tuneup the likes of which it’s never experienced before. I also will need parts, although waffling on whether I want to get them here, or on arrival in Владивосток. Leaning towards the latter.

  • Bank
    Need to arrange my bank account details (side note: about to hit my hoped-for $50k target! Yay!). The plan is to have 2 accounts: A, which I cannot access (directly) from Russia, and B, which I can. Most of my money will be in A. So if I get mugged and my cards stolen, counterfeited, etc. they will only be able to get at the small amount in B. Then I can make periodic phone calls to the bank and transfer money from A to B as needed. But need to arrange all this.

  • Shots / Immunizations
    I... really need to get on this. *ahem*

  • Travel Insurance
    Yes. And definitely this. I rather lucked out in the UK when I had my accident. I doubt the Russian health system would be quite as facilitating. Especially if I get hit by a drunk driver on a lonely Siberian highway 500km from nowhere.

  • Terrell
    Terrell is my uncle, who visited my relatives in that part of the world somewhere on the order of 20 years ago? (I think?) I really need to have a chat with him and get the low-down, find out who to contact and how, etc. as I really would like to meet up with my Russian/Ukrainian families if possible.
    Slightly complicated by the fact that Uncle Terrell lives in Japan. (I mean, there’s an Internet for that, but still.)

  • MGIS Program at U of C
    For after I get back. I have spoken to profs about this. I have not done much more than that. I rather need to, if I want to make it into the January 2017 intake.

So there we go! That’s, uh, the short list. The very very daunting short list.

In the meantime, I have to get back into the kitchen, and back to cooking. It’s Ukrainian Christmas on Thursday, and so I’m making a big Christmas dinner to take to class on Wednesday evening. Arranging for 13 dishes (some of which I’d like to be still warm) in a classroom 10km from home when it’s -15° out and I’m on a bike is going to be an... interesting challenge.

До скорого!

Bother me tomorrow, today I'll buy no sorrow

So. The last ten days: best 10 days ever??

I dunno. Probably not. But a damned strong contender.

+Friday: Was in Edmonton over (Thursday) night, and came back Friday.
I like Edmonton! I’ve mentioned this before. They have good restaurants there. Had a productive meeting.
+Friday: May 1st marked the ONE YEAR point before I go to Russia.
(Assuming that my visa application doesn’t get rejected, etc. etc. But we’ll cross that bridge if/when we get to it.) As something that I’ve been planning for eighteen years now (almost half my life) it feels a bit strange for it to suddenly become so imminent. But good. Not quite where I’d wanted to be on the Gantt chart at this point, but ehhhh... close enough. Not worried. Classes are still going well, etc. Visa application process ramping up. Talking to profs at the UofC about starting an MGIS in January 2017 (e.g.: shortly after I get back).
+Friday: Speed run: 10k in 46min! Yay.
+Friday & Saturday: worked the casino for the Calgary Fringe Fringe Festival!
Ok, so this may be an odd thing to put as a + but I happen to really like working casinos. Just one more way in which I am strange. But I like counting and reconciling large piles of money. Appeals to the mathy part of my brain. Besides, got the chance to catch up with a bunch of Fringe volunteers and other peeps that I haven’t seen since last summer...
+Saturday: long run: 50k in 4h 58min! Yay!
So I’ve signed up to run the 50k ultra marathon at the Calgary Marathon Calgary Marathon in a couple weeks’ time. Have been practicing by running a 50k “long run” every weekend. Started at 5h29, and by working have now gotten my time down to—for the first time—below 5 hours. Pretty stoked.
+Sunday: biked 240km out to Sentinel Recreation Area Kananaskis Country and back, where I went hiking. Much fun.

+Monday: Great day at work – managed to finally get a report sent off that’s been hanging over my head for (more) months (than I’d care to admit to).
+Monday: All-you-can-eat sushi with friends! How can this possibly go wrong?
(Answer: it can’t.)
+Tuesday: Did my part to help usher in Alberta’s FIRST CHANGE IN GOVERNMENT IN FORTY-FOUR YEARS. Wooooooooo! (More on this in an upcoming post.)
+Wednesday-Friday: Have been more productive than I feel like I’ve been in years. See above re: change in government. It’s such a strange feeling to: not know who the ministers are, not know who the ministers will—or even might—be, not know much of anything about what the new policies will be, or what they will look like, actually feel like some of the things for which we’ve been pushing for decades might actually happen...??!?! Very bizarre. But all my existing lines of correspondence with the ministers (and their predecessors, etc.)? FILED. All the scads of icons on my desktop representing ongoing (often for years) projects? FILED.
+Thursday: Sent out a media release for which we actually got a surprising amount of good responses and media coverage!
Maybe they were just looking for something other than “election” to cover, but whatever. I’ll take it! Made me feel like I was good and useful at my job! :-)
+Thursday: Good day at squash!
Lots of exercise! Felt great!
+Thursday: Got team assignments, etc. Put together for the upcoming K-100 K-100 Kananaskis Relay Race. Apparently I really enjoyed myself last year, so am very much looking forward to doing it again next month.
+Friday: Speed run: 10k in 43min! Yay!!
By far my best time on a 10k. Assuming I could keep this pace up, it would put me on track to a 90-minute half marathon. Which is just: whatwhatwhaaaaat??? Of course, I totally wouldn’t be able to keep that up for a whole 21k. But still! It’s a magic number of some sort... and feels GREAT!
-Saturday: My “Saturday Morning at the Law School” class was pretty underwhelming. A friend had suggested going out and doing stuff that morning and I SO should have ditched class to do that. But seriously: if that’s the only - on this list I WILL TAKE IT.
+Saturday: But in the afternoon there were board games! And BBQ! And party! And it was fun!
Admittedly it was a “going away” party for a friend, so the cause was sad. But ehh... he’s only going as far as Regina. And will likely be back to Calgary on several occasions. And the party was tons and tons of fun! So sure.
+Sunday: Ran 52k this afternoon!
That’s... a new distance record for me. Owing to some slightly incorrect math on my part that led me to adding an extra couple k to my anticipated 50. So. Further than next month’s ultra, but eh: there’s nothing WRONG with a bit of extra practice, neh?
+Sunday: And finally. Somehow, somehow despite all the beef jerky I bought (and subsequently ate) in Longview last Sunday, and the pigging out at Sushi on Monday, and the celebrating at the election on Tuesday (dinner on Tuesday MAY have consisted entirely of several bottles of beer and a couple of pints of ice cream...) and the pigging out at the party on Saturday... SOMEhow I managed to get down to 145 lbs for the first time in several years. Yess!
Ok, so it does not escape me that there are a couple people rolling their eyes pretty hard at this point (seriously, I can feel it from here). And make no mistake: I do understand & appreciate the reasons for that. But it makes ME feel really great. Which is, y’know, what it’s all about, right? So yeah.

-Sunday: Oh. I guess there is a second - on this list: the Flames just got knocked out of the playoffs. Oh well. It was a good, fun run. They got way further than they were ever expected to, and they never really had any realistic chance of beating the Ducks anyway. So—sigh—yeah. Thanks for all the fish the awesome season, boys. Looking forward to next year! #NeverQuit

So... yeah. Best. Fricking. 10 days. Ever.
Or at least pretty damn close.
leaving chernobyl

And no-one ever really knows you / And life is brief / So I've heard

On the upside...

I can learn.

This may sound like some figure of speech in which I’m couching broader meaning, but I actually mean it in the simplest, most straightforward way possible:

I have the physical (?) ability to learn more things that I did not previously know.

In my current condition, this isn’t the flippant and self-evident statement it might otherwise seem.

I don’t remember anything from Russian classes last year; don’t remember being in them at all.
Whatever knowledge I gained while attending them is still sticking with me – at least mostly. I am able to carry on in my current classes without significant gaps between knowledge expected of me from last semester, and what I’m able to produce. I retain the ability to speak; certainly I can speak the language well beyond the ability that I know I exhibited 16 months ago at the time of my accident.

Which is perhaps not surprising in some ways. After all, how much do you remember from when you first learned to speak (your first language)? But yet, you can still speak it. And likewise with any of the other myriad things you learned at that age. Learning != memory.

It’s a simple concept, but an important one. It’s cause for hope and something that I can clutch onto when there isn’t much else.

Who knows what I will ever regain the ability to remember in one, five, ten years from now. But at least in some respects I won’t be forever stuck in October 2013.

My Russian classes serendipitously serve as a recurring reminder of this. And they are seriously seriously the single best thing in my life right now.

I am holding on to that So. Hard.
wailing wall

1, 2, 3 even when you get tired / Just keep one foot in front of the other

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In an attempt to make it to something, anything at all this weekend that didn’t end in abject failure, I still ran the Hypothermic Half Marathon earlier today (for which I had registered a while back).

I say “still” because in my ill-fated rush to make it to things on Friday, I was biking way too fast for conditions and wiped out on a patch of ice. Didn’t hit my head this time (ha) but smashed up my legs a bunch, leaving them bleeding, bruised and dented, and with loudly-complaining muscles.

I mean, it wasn’t that serious; I’ll be fine. But really, in no shape to go running this weekend. And I probably would have given it a pass, except for everything else that had already gone down, and I was determined that there would be one—just one—thing this weekend that I wasn’t going to screw up.

(Besides, running always makes me feel better, and I was in desperate need of a pick-me-up.)

So I ran. And somehow, despite my busted legs, I made it in under 2 hours... somewhere around 1:57-and-something.

Which was totally incredible. And mind. Numbingly. Stupid.

Because whatever my legs might have had left is gone now. I’m on Tylenol (context: I never take pain-killers. I had to stop to get some because I didn’t have any in the house) and still in a fair bit of pain. There’s no way I can walk, only sort of hobble around a bit.

But I guess I managed to get one thing done this weekend.


Fuck February.

I hate February.

Don't beg for silver paper / When I'm trying to sell you cheese

Arancini (Breaded & Fried Risotto Balls) with Marinara Sauce

I was just commenting to chu_hi that I was being remiss and needed to do a food post again sometime soon. (Sure, ok, there were the Livejournal gingerbread cookies of Catan not too long ago, but I mean a proper food post, with recipes and whatnot.)

And as it happens, AWA’s volunteer thank-you / Christmas party is on Tuesday, so ’twould seem to befit the occasion.

Also as it happens, a little while back Calgary Cinemathèque Calgary Cinemathèque held an after-party at Pulcinella where they served us these amazing arancini (breaded and deep fried risotto balls) Twitter with which I totally fell in love. Noting at the time that the risotto tasted almost exactly like that produced by the recipe I have used and loved for years decades now (seriously, it was, like, the first honest-to-$deity “not Kraft Dinner” type recipe I ever learned), I figured I was already halfway home, and that I should really try to make them myself.

So: what better time than the present?

(Note: the risotto needs to be made ahead of time — preferably 1 or 2 days — to give it time to develop cohesiveness.)
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So anyway...

Om nom nomf:

I am seriously stoked that it came out tasting better than the restaurant version that inspired the thing in the first place! (If, uh, I do say so myself...)

Makes about 18 baseball-sized arancini (ETA: or about 32 golfball-sized arancini).