Sean Nichols (mrputter) wrote,
Sean Nichols

Remember to live and let live / Well it's all right, the best you can do is forgive

Winter is coming here.

It arrived the other Sunday with an almighty 2-day wallop of snow, and a 20-degree drop in temperature.

And right on schedule — I think that pretty much every year since I arrived in Calgary, there has been a definitive “winter starts now” moment, almost always falling within a week of Hallowe’en. So this year was only a day or so late. (I find it amazing that a place with such variable and often-chaotic weather as Calgary can have such a consistent start to this season.)

I internally predicted it a fair ways out, in other words.

So a couple weeks back when Erika suggested holding a games day on November 9th, I straightaway figured there was a good chance it would have recently turned snowy and wintery when that day arrived.

What better time to start breaking out the gingerbread cookie recipe?

Gingerbread Cookies of Catan!

I actually had not just the hex tiles, but an entire edible game created, including Twizzler-and-gumdrop based road/settlement/etc. sets, random number generators made out of toffee, resource cards made out of edible paper and so forth. But long story made short, it was easier to actually play the game with cards and tokens from the original set. Being a bit too fancy for my own good.

Erika seemed suitably fascinated by them though, apparently constantly having to remind herself not to eat the game board. Success!

“You said not to eat the game board, Erika!”

The weather notwithstanding, I am still on my summer bike. Sigh. I still haven’t gotten around to buying a new winter one yet. So I’m gingerly skating around on the ice with thin high-pressure summer bike tyres. Yeeeeeah not such a great plan. I make myself nervous.

Haven’t gotten a new winter bike mostly due to the combination of a lack of time, and repeatedly blowing my money on other nonsense. What with Christmas gifts, and last month’s trip to PEI, and next month’s two weeks in South Africa, I don’t know that I’ll find the spare funds any time soon, either.

Because of course I’m still throwing $1000 a month at the Russia fund in between everything else. For now I’m still assuming that trip will be a “go”. Although I remain nervous. As things stand I’m contemplating a detour via Belarus to avoid that Russia/Ukraine border. I think it’s doable, although will be some distance out of my way. But I have a decent margin of error, time-wise. And extending my trip by a couple of weeks wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Russian classes at MRU MRU are going very well. They are giving me precisely what I’m looking for in terms of the ability to practice my oral Russian (both speaking and listening) and giving me the discipline of a formal structure around what I’m studying.

My written Russian is mostly passable (although every now and then I come across a surprisingly elementary gap in my knowledge — indeed due to the nature of learning it from blogs etc. most of the bigger gaps are at the beginner-level stuff). But my spoken Russian is (or at least was, before I started taking classes) utterly atrocious. My pronunciation of most words was very off (understandable, since I never had any real opportunity to practice or get feedback), I’m slow and stutter a lot, and I have trouble understanding others when they speak (since, again, I often don’t know how words are supposed to be pronounced).

The classes are good, but I have... a lot of un-learning to do.

It’s interesting to compare the experience to pretty much every other language course I’ve ever taken (French, Arabic, German). In all those other courses, I’ve always been by far and away the biggest keener in the class. But this one has a very different flavour, as it’s a night-school course for adults, not for credit. So everyone’s taking time/money out of their schedules specifically to attend this class and learn this material (as opposed to, e.g.: just taking something kind-of interesting to fill out their degree). Meaning that pretty much everyone else is a huge keener too. So it’s intense. And refreshing!

But a lot of practicing. (Which is of course not a bad thing at all.)

Last week, I went to a performance of «Кто Боится Вирджинии Вульф?» (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”). All I can say is: I’m glad I was already familiar with the play in English! Otherwise I suspect I would have gotten very little out of it. (Didn’t exactly help that it’s a very dialogue-heavy play with not a lot of action to reinforce/help inform said dialogue.)

As it was, I was able to pick out parts here and there that I recognized, and kindasortamaybe follow along for a bit. But a lot of it was still over my head.

A useful and fun exercise though! And next time, I’ll be even better able to follow along.

Also two weeks ago (a lot of this post seems to be about things that happened two weeks ago — it was apparently a busy week!) we had a crew from Google come by the office to take photos for Google Business View (uses Google Street View technology to create a virtual tour of the inside of our building).

If any people show up in the photos, their faces of course have to be blurred out for privacy reasons. However! We also have our grizzly bear mascot suit that we mostly use for outreach/awareness purposes. And there’s obviously no requirement to have “Little Smoky”’s face blurred out. So I put on the bear suit and spent the afternoon mugging it up for Google.

So now Google Maps in the tour of our building, in every shot there is a grizzly bear getting up to strange antics somewhere in the background, in a sort-of “Where’s Waldo” kind of fashion (except I’m a lot more obvious than the, er, illustrious Waldo).

I think that would qualify as one of the more unusual parts of my job.

But fun! (Although it took way, way longer than I expected, so had to put in a pile of extra time the next day to make up for what was lost. What else is new? #grizzlyProblems)

I totally need to put this on my business cards...:

Finally, We had a new volunteer come by the office today looking for stuff to do. I have some technology-related work I could really use some help with, but the last several volunteers have been... rather technophobic and pretty unsuited to the task (technophobia is, it seems to me, significantly more common in the environmental field than elsewhere).

So I was going through the orientation, asking preliminary questions to see where she might best fit in, and asked about computer experience (the fact that she had filled out the volunteer application form as a PDF into which she’d inserted text fields, rather than a handwritten paper version, was an extremely good sign, but I wanted to know more details).

To which I got a got a response that included a bunch of stuff, concluding with the fact that in the process of writing her MSc she ended up programming a number of ArcGIS modules.


I think I can still hear the angels singing her praises.

(What’re the chances that I’ve found a replacement for when I end up leaving AWA? )
Tags: awa, biking, food, gaming, gis, russia-planning, school, theatre, weather, winter

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