29 September 2009

Hot air 11 - Canadia quirks

if you arent bored by our lack of inactivity, then i certainly am. apologies (hope this helps a little bit sarah ;)).

i submit our canadian observations thus far:

1. in general, the people seem friendlier or at least like they have more time to be helpful. i cant say every person you see will bend over backwards for you, but on average, people are quite nice. the kindness index seems to increase even more once you actually know people (ie. at work, as a regular somewhere, etc)

2. they are very environmentally-minded here. we have to sort our things into 4 different bins: organics, containers (plastics/glass/metal), cardboard, paper, and if it doesnt go in those bins...then it hits the trash. crazy, but it means we only fill one trash bag a week!

3. along the environmental lines, at least one chain of local grocery stores has their freezer section programmed to have its lights off unless a customer walks near that section.

4. when we first arrived in town and had a tv, we noticed a seriously large proportion of PSAs on tv for safety, health, etc. good work canadian government. now we all know how to deal with a seizure, prevent the spread of disease, keep kids safe, etc. kinda cool.

5. you probably are aware that "wash room" is used in place of "bathroom," but its really hard to remember to use on a regular basis. getting use to it...(amy, i wont make fun of you again)

6. they love potato chips here. so many kettle chip varieties and otherwise. and weird flavors like ketchup or pickle. salt and pepper chips are a fav though.

7. they have cadbury brand candy imports here. york peppermint patties just arent as good as cadbury peps.

8. have you heard of poutine? its fries with cheese curds and gravy...i havent had any yet, dont wanna die of a heart attack. they also have a thing called "newfie fries" here. this is the newfoundland concoction of fries with stuffing and gravy on top.

9. they LOVE mazdas here. we have a protege 5 and we are among one of what feels like hundreds of owners of that same car in the city. its kinda nice, i guess, knowing that the mechanic will know how to deal with any issues, but its weird being in a place where every day we see a handful of cars like ours.

10. compared to michigan, the roads here are...only slightly better. bumpy and rough. cant wait for the winter...

11. the pedestrians here rule the roost. cars stop at corners, crosswalks, and even random places just anticipating that a pedestrian will start walking across the street. personally i love a good jaywalking, but i will never put my faith in drivers to stop for me the second i get the inkling to cross the street. it just seems dumb. this place gets enough visitors that i just dont feel safe. but more often than not, im stopped waiting to cross the street (minding my own business) and traffic will just stop for me. freaks me out.

12. drivers have a weird attachment to their horn. they dont seem to use it out of anger, rather, they use it the MILLIsecond a light turns green to let the car in front of them know they can start going. there doesnt appear to be any accompanied road rage or tailgating, but it is a near vital necessity to honk...out of courtesy? i dont know, its still a mystery to us.

13. and, something ive noticed since working. if i leave at 5p, the halls are eerily quiet. people definitely go home early/on-time around here. i guess its a bit of the french leaning mentality rather than the work-to-the-bone american mentality. rush hour starts routinely at around 4p around here. its nice though, seeing people work hard and happy at work and then go home to a satisfying personal life too.

20 September 2009

Peggy's cove[ted] shoreline

visited nearby peggy's cove today.

took the scenic route from halifax to peggy's cove. lots of windy roads along the coast with lovely scenery and water. peggy's cove is one of the many coastal villages on the southern side of nova scotia. its about 45 minutes southwest of halifax. its actually barely a village. it consists of some very old docks and perhaps a dozen buildings. but, it has a lighthouse and some great preserved land surrounding the rocky shoreline. very rugged. and quite a tourist destination.

(dave by the inlet near the visitors parking lot; me and the lighthouse; me and [we assume] a whale vertebrae; a fishing shack in the village; view of the village from the lighthouse area)

as with any good tourist destination, there is an ice cream shop. but this is an amazing ice cream shop called dee dee's. local homemade ice cream that is seriously quality and gourmet. flavors like lavender (really tastes like lavender, but not in a gross way) and banana cardamom. the mint chocolate chip (which dave got, of course) was not neon green, it was just real mint flavor in a cool, smooth scoop. refreshing. and me, i got the nova scotia berry. really colorful, and flavorful, and had lots of berry seeds. more fruity than sugary. this was just good ice cream. and i dont like ice cream. i see from their website that they also make homemade ice cream sandwiches...the mint brownie and ginger lemon look to die for!

all in all, it was a nice little excursion. i was glad dave suggested it and that we got out finally. i needed it. :)

17 September 2009

Cold, hard science picnic

daves department had a picnic. so we went.

started at around 5p in the courtyard that all the hard sciences share. it was a strange work party because it functioned like a tailgate party and you had to pay (albeit not very much) for the grillables and beverages. it makes me realize just how well-funded things are over at UM...we're spoiled. but that doesnt mean the party was bad.

dave and i chatted with the enigmatic computer guru from daves lab. short, bearded, nova scotian elder who has never visited the u.s. and is allergic to the building he works in. nice guy. weird guy. i liked him. next was a fellow post-doc from france. he came from all over france, most recently paris. nice guy.

lastly, the person we talked to the most was a professor. she grew up in a village south of nantes, france and recently taught in lille, france. she bitterly detests the food here and misses most things about being in europe. however, she and her husband are faculty here at dalhousie so life works well for them in that respect. we reminisced with her about france and she expressed her difficulties with teaching in english. we had a sputtering discussion in french ending when dave asked if she would like to be a part of a small group who got together maybe once a week to have lunch and speak french. she was delighted (and i think perhaps her husband and the post-doc may become a part of it, and me too if i can swing it).

eventually we had to leave the party though because it was so ridiculously chilly. all the days surrounding the party were lovely but this evening it had to drop below normal. oh well. we enjoyed ourselves despite the sad offerings. dave is pretty lucky to have such a nice group to work with.

16 September 2009

First day of work

a rainy day is a good day to work.

first day of work today. of course it had to rain. but thankfully, i was prepared, even looking forward to it. just this past weekend i had bought my very own pair of rain boots. yay!

(me and the rain boots. did i mention that working in academia is awesome? you can go to work looking like a slob every day and no one cares. bonus.)

got my office set up, computer set up, figured out what things i can get to work on right away, and started to take care of some of the beginning administrative things. its my first time being a part-time worker so itll be interesting to see how long it takes before i feel like i know the people on my floor. we shall see.

came home to find nutmeg sitting in the box my rain boots came in. weirdo. at least she likes things that are free. dave also made a chard and rapini lasagna tonight that i found to be WAY too bitter (it was the rapinis fault) but was a masterful way to use our new fresh veggies.

(nutmeg in the rain boot box. it looks like shes trying to poop. but she isnt. she sleeps in here now.)

13 September 2009

Indian summer squashes irish luck

had a nice morning followed by some awesome football.

started out trying the cafe down the street called wired monk. walking toward the harbor, the sun was out, and it was hot! how long will this indian summer last? to enjoy it, we shared a smoothie and club sandwich and got right back out on the streets when we were finished. people seemed to be soaking it up. it was great.

we wandered into the fancy camera store on our street when we got a bit sweaty to get a feel for some point-and-shot cameras dave had been researching (im about at the end of my patience with our old one. its had a nice long life with us since 2002 but i need something that can take more than one photo per minute.) anyway, found out the camera guy helping us had recently come back from a long hike in nepal, same area dave has done field work. funny. cool.

next up was a falafel sandwich that was enjoyed in the shade of the trees by the library. some totally wacky musical dance was going on on the lawn. girls in red t-shirts doing a weird interpretive dance...anyway, sandwich done meant it was time to come back and get settled for an evening of football.

caught MSU and its losing embarrassment (ha!). then watched UM silence the irish for another year (we whooped and shouted to the point where i think neighbors were probably concerned). such an amazing game!! capped off by a tasty OSU loss. great football weekend. :)

11 September 2009

SIN and insurance

another round of necessary errands.

to start my job, i need a SIN number. we headed to the dartmouth branch where we got daves SIN because we had other things going on on that side of the bridge. it was quick and easy: she printed my number on the spot and the card will come shortly in the mail. she also gave me a couple of booklets about employee services and benefits (these would be the services and benefits available to all canadian workers, at the national level).

since we were in dartmouth, we had to stop at the "our thyme cafe" and get a tasty and inexpensive meal. LOVE the smoothies.

next up, insurance. our bank, RBC, has a separate branch for insurance policies. dartmouth was the closet branch to go visit in person. we were able to get renters insurance on the spot, but the car insurance is proving to be trickier.

unless we want to pay the rates of a 16 year old driver, we have to prove 6+ years of insured driving and provide a driving record report from our secretary of state (drivers abstract). thankfully the insurance proof was free from our past u.s. company and the drivers abstract is less than $10 (per person), but its a pain in the ass to have to order them and get them to us here in canada. once we get this taken care of, it means a nice low rate and it also means we can go get our nova scotian license plate. woo hoo!

Morris east delicious

decided on dinner out tonight. yum.

less than a block from us is morris east. a gourmet pizza place. its great!

we started with a duo dip of bleu cheese/fig and artichoke/kalamata olive spreads with hot slices of plain pizza dough bread. SO yummy! then we shared the chicken artichoke pizza on whole wheat crust. so good. the ingredients were top-notch and local (where possible), the staff was friendly, and the atmosphere was cute and cozy. it was a bit pricey and we got a few looks for sharing both the appetizer and main dish (everyone else got their own appetizer and pizza. wtf!?), but i am so happy this place is right near our apartment. we will be back, many times.

Morris East on Urbanspoon

09 September 2009

Bountiful harvest

many good things.

decided to take the part-time health policy job, so today i went in to get the paperwork necessary to get a SIN and be able to get in the system. went over the job tasks again, i get to be involved in many different and interesting things. i get to learn lots of new things up front so that will please my brain. my office mate seems nice and my boss seems very friendly and positive.

after getting home with the paperwork, i opened an email and had a request for another job interview. turned it down of course, but nice to know i made that cut.

in the evening, we went to the grainery co-op to pick up our much anticipated food basket. we signed up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) which partners a consumer with moon fire farms and once a week the consumer gets a large bag of fresh, organic fruits and veggies. $23 per week for 13 weeks. not a bad deal. here is what came this week, for example:

- swiss chard - 3/4 lb
- rapini - 1/2 lb
- dragon tongue beans - 1/2 lb
- sultan crescent yellow beans - 1/2 lb
- stupice tomatoes - 1 lb
- potatoes - 1.5 lb
- blueberries - 1 pint
- apples - 3
- cucumber - 1
- mixed fresh greens - 1 bag
- onions - 1 red / 1 white
- garlic
- basil

(the items in the food basket)

07 September 2009

French connection

french delights day.

this morning dave was signed in to skype and lo and behold...we got a call from jj. had an impromptu 30 minute discussion in french. phew! keeps me on my toes. :) it was nice to talk to you jj (and see you. we both had our web cams on). glad things are going well in brittany. :)

to cap off the french day, we found a great deal on filet mignon at petes frootique and dave made a fabulous meal for us. yum yum yum. he still misses the french food every day of our lives here. :(

(some random apartment pics: two of the "living room" and two of the bedroom. the dresser has jodys bday gifts and the closet has the breton flag gift i got from jj. thanks guys!)

06 September 2009

Michigan what!?

Michigan football is here!

amid controversy and predictions of a loss, we called around to the local sports bars to see if they would be broadcasting our game. no dice. thankfully, dave had a back-up plan: www.justin.tv/. you can find numerous users broadcasting from their television (most in decent quality) basically anything you can imagine, including sports games.

to prep for the game, we ordered a pizza from ristorante a mano (pretty tasty) and watched the mgoblog football season hype video. its actually really well done. starts out depressing, in black and white with song lyrics to match and builds and builds until it and the song burst into color. the lyrics actually go really well with the video and the sentiments expressed. i guess there are a few interesting things to be pulled from the website dave is so obsessed with, and that patrick has only encouraged a deeper obsession (thanks.).

and if you dont already know...WE WON! kicked butt in fact (and if you didnt know that, you arent my friend. j/k.).

04 September 2009

What a week

going into the weekend on a good note.

starting off the morning, dave got a call that his corrected work permit was ready for pick up. yay! then i went for my full-time job interview. this is a research coordinator position at the IWK health centre. it would be a maternity replacement for the woman who coordinates the large childrens mental health grants there.

i met with the woman, the head doctor on the grant, and the administrative guy. they were all very friendly and interesting people. they had one of the more structured interview question sessions id ever experienced but nothing really through me off guard. sounds like they were interviewing maybe 4-6 people for this position so we'll see. it seemed more coordination than science to me, so perhaps if i think about it more, the part-time research job will sound better anyway. then i would be left open and available for another part-time research opportunity.

when i got back from the interview, i picked up my movie on hold at the library, "rainbow brite and the star stealer." serious nostalgia people. loved rainbow brite as a kid, had her on my bed comforter. it was a fun way to wind down the day and get ready for the weekend...michigan football!!!

03 September 2009

Round 2 is a knock out

had the second interview for the part-time job. got it!

after reading two of her papers (one was a chapter from her book and the other was a recent publication of hers) i came in to discuss them with her. she wanted to see what i got from them and to see if the topics/ideas are of interest to me.

her work is in the area of health policy, particularly health inequality/inequity (how to identify, characterize it, etc) and how to allocate resources to reduce the inequalities. health policy was not an area i focused on during my epidemiology studies, but its certainly something of interest to me professionally and personally. learning more about this field and how things can move from academia to affecting real government change is also of interest to me.

long story short. it would appear that she liked what i had to say or rather what i found in her writings to be interesting. she seems to be a strong scientist and a nice woman. i have the other interview tomorrow and then i will have a decision to make.

Elderly car


car in for the repair of "check engine light" we had during the road trip. it also needed an oil change. while searching for problems, they also told us our tires were scalloped, a front sway bar was broken, and the exhaust was cracked. yippee! future repairs. as it was, a new ERG valve and an oil change = $290.

but, something nice today was that dave had orientation at dalhousie for new post-docs and faculty. in his working group was a nice new faculty in the nursing department, specifically in the maternal/child health area. he asked for her email and if she would mind if i contacted her (thanks dave!). i emailed her and i think in a week or two we will meet. cool.