warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
Alone, I’m more into doing than relaxing. I used to spend the first day just walking the downtown of a new city. I might spend 8 hours just walking. Then I’d see all the “sights”. I’d only eat in the best, or at least best-known, places (eg either Michelin-rated or Varsity Hotdog). Big on traveling light. Once went to Europe for weeks? months? and only took 1 flight bag that I packed 15 minutes before leaving for the airport. Three sets of underwear and washed them out in the sink at night. Oddly enough, when I was in the military, often had much more stuff. If I deployed, the Army was big on "making sure you have whatever you need, whatever happens. That means, in additon to field gear and body armor, carried both hot and cold weather stuff. I knew at least one doc who was initially deployed to somewhere very hot (Kuwait?); then got sub-deployed for some weeks to somewhere very cold (mountains of Afghanistan?) Bottom line, a rucksack and 4 duffel bags to go anywhere. What was even weirder, was going somewhere on a long weekend with the Reserves. I'd often need: working (field) uniform with boots, dress uniform with dress shoes, civilian clothing with casual shoes, and PT (workout) uniform with sneakers. All this (including the 4 sets of footware) for 3-4 days. I've been been a fashionista (*understatement*), but this masses of clothing luggage gives me some understanding into that life. This from a man who does own 3 pairs of shoes: all black, slip-ons, not quite identical, but close. (Never used to wear slip-on shoes, but since currently live under Asian household rules, much easier than lace-ups.)
With small kids, travel is still not Relaxing (note capital R). Just much slower. Pick up stuff at a local market supermarket to eat in the room (microwavable). Eat off-hours anywhere decent. If manage one tourist sight before kids crash/meltdown, then we’re doing well. Walk a bit, pushing stroller until kids nap. Much chilling in the room, or maybe poolside. Rinsing shirt in sink. Not underwear. Traveling light... except for all the stuff for kids. At some point it has been 1small suitcase for Nom and I, 2 large ones for kids stuff. And that's not even counting the stroller. Airlines love us. (I tend to head straight for the priority check-in. Maybe they don't like it, but will like 2 hyperactive kids running around check-in even less. They can bill me an extra 25-cents.) This last trip, Hedgefund decided that the ideal mix was 1 large suitcase for her, and 1 for everyone else together. Did I mention fashionista? We convinced her otherwise.
warriorsavant: (Wedding/Romance)
We were almost too tired to go away but wanted to break up the period of "kids off from day care" and of winter cold. Also we'd already booked the 5 days away, so off we went. Any doubts about that's being the right decision were erased when we got to our hotel and stood on the outside walkway looking at the ocean (well Gulf of Mexico to be precise). In the warmth. Had sudden urge to change careers to "inspect sunsets through bottom of beer stein while sitting on a beach." Unlikely to actually happen anytime soon, but very strong urge. (On the other hand, summers there are unbearably hot and humid, so beginning to understand snow birds.) Since not actually moving anytime soon, do need to make sure the kids know how to skate and ski and other activities that make one enjoy winter (at least until they go to Med School at UBC (or possibly U Hawaii).

Downside was the long traveling (basically first and last day spent in transit) and that we all came down sick and spent most of the last day sitting around the hotel feeling miserable and puking. Upside was warm and relaxing and beautiful.

Impressions )

Some specifics )

L'envoi. “Goodbye ocean, goodbye palm trees, goodbye warm weather"
warriorsavant: (Quebec sait faire)
(Entirely separate concepts today. Was going to make it Communications, Commute and Cappuccino, with the "Communications" being WS talking, but thought he deserved his own post for that.)

Commuting: the garage door on my office building jammed (again) the other day. I was going to go home for lunch, but couldn't drive because couldn't get my car out. The concierge told me there was a taxi office just up the street. Went there. Long story short, "you have to get the app to call us." Jerks. I'm standing right there, you have drivers and taxis just sitting around, but you won't take my business because I don't have the "app." Fortunately there was a taxi from another company nearby so I went with them. Borrowed Nom's car to go back to work, then back home at the end of the day to get her and the kids. The next morning took the Metro to work. Not really bad, but just that little bit longer and more annoying which reminded me why people usually don't take mass transit when they have the option to drive: walk to the Metro station, wait for the train, (fortunately didn't have to change lines), go 2 stops, walk from the Metro station. Three times longer than point-to-point driving. In nice weather, if I'm feeling energetic, I might walk to work some days, it would be 30-40 minutes.

Cappuccino: The commercial unit across the hall from my new office had their "soft" opening. That is to say, they were sufficiently moved in that if you walked in, they would accommodate your business, but not fully up and running. It is a bicycle rental/repair shop, convenience store, and café. Not as weird as it sounds. They are on the side of the building that fronts the scenic bike path along the old Lachine Canal. The owner has bike repair/rental place about further up the bike path, but this is meant for higher-end bikes. Also, being on the path is a good location if bikers, joggers, or strollers want a cold drink, a snack, or a coffee. I'm happy to have a place in my building that offers same. I have a fridge and a coffee maker in my back office, but they have cappuccino. Frankly, not the best cappuccino, but it is there. They will have a terrasse outside. Montreal is big on terrasses during our - limited - good weather. Their main entrance is from outside along the path. However, if you live or work in the building, and have key fob for the front door, it will also let you into their store directly from the inside hallway. Very clever on the owner's part, as it makes him the convenience store for the building too.
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
It's been a bit since had a chance to post. Yeah, so about the picture of Wallstreet in AMNH (a.k.a. the dinosaur museum). That's in NYC, which means that we all were there the week before last. I had a medical conference (the 3rd World Conference on Cutaneous Lymphoma, if you care). Important conference for me to attend, plus good excuse to take a short trip to the Island at the Center of the World with my family.

Intro )


Conference itself )

Tomorrow: places to go, people to see, things to do.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
In is Canadian Thanksgiving (Monday observance).

I have so much to be thankful for.

- My family. I could not believe I could be this happy, nor love having children so much. I get weepy just thinking about it.
- My family of birth. We don't seem close, but when I look at other families, I realize how good we have it.
- My extended family. They are loving and supportive.
- My job. I love what I do: 90% of the time, I basically like it; 5% of the time, I think they aren't, and couldn't pay me enough to put up with the cruddy parts; but 5% of the time, I can't believe I get to do this cool stuff, and they even pay me.
- I'm healthy. Not perfectly healthy, but way better than the average 60-year old.
- I live in a free and wealthy country. Even at the worst, it's a great place to live, and I have it far from "the worst."
- I was born, and still a citizen of, another great, free, and wealthy country. Ditto the above. (And both of these, despite the idiots we have as leaders.)
- I served in the military for a long time. Deployed 4 times to war zones. It was truly an honour. (And I'm physically unscathed.)
- I have a lovely, comfortable condo in a good part of a great city, and will soon by moving into a lovely, comfortable, large house in another good part of this city.
- I have enough to eat, and can eat with great variety and delicious taste whenever I want.
- I have traveled the world. I'm (mostly) bilingual. Having a second language gives one a second soul.
- I can read, and have books as my companions whenever I want.

I am so lucky.
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
My language patterns range from humorous & whimsical at one pole, to to very precise, concise, and logical at the other. Well, range is not the right word, it tends to be one extreme or the other, sometimes both, but rarely in between. I pride myself on both, but to be honest, more on the latter, as I tend to be very logical. I'm pleased Hedgefund seems to be moving down the path of logic and precision.

We're in Boston - more on that another time. Earlier tonight, Nom was with Wallstreet and I was with Hedgefund. We were both going to pick up some items, then meet in Copley Square (named after John Singleton Copley) to dine al fresco. (Both John and Al were prominent Bostonians in their day.) HF & I got there first. After waiting a minute, she took my hand (well, finger) and began to walk determinedly up the street. After almost a block, I asked, "Where are you going, honey?"

She answered, very concisely, precisely, and logically, "I'm going this way."
warriorsavant: (Time)
Hedgefund has gotten pretty stable on her feet. However, when she is going up or especially down stairs, I still pace her to catch her if she falls. Sometimes she accepts it, sometimes she waves me away, as she has a (largely realistic) independent streak about doing things herself.

The last time Dad was able to travel was 2006. WWC and he and I went to the UK (Wales & northwest England). WWC was part of a Gilbert & Sullivan festival held in Buxton, England, and Dad went with her for fun. I was returning from somewhere or something (I forget what) and meet up with them to go traveling.

It was a fun trip. Although we didn't know it would be Dad's last trip anywhere outside NYC, at 86, he was starting to get a little unstable on his feet. Not for well-paved and level roads, but on hills and cobblestones we were a little worried about him, so subtly one of us walked on either side of him. Well, we thought subtly. At some point, turned to me, said he knew what we were doing and appreciated it, then he grinned. I don't know if the grin was because he actually did appreciate it, or because he had caught us; probably a bit of both. 
warriorsavant: (Space-horsehead nebula)
I'm reading Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. COL Hadfield is the Canadian Astronaut who recently commanded the International Space Station. He is a totally impressive person by any count: Colonel in the RCAF, fighter pilot, test pilot, PhD in Engineering, plays the guitar… Actually, from what I've read, most astronauts are like that. They are the best of the best of the best that humanity has to offer. All the military pilots also have advanced science or engineering degrees, all the mission specialists have private pilot licenses, all are excellent in whatever hobbies they have, as well as being in great physical shape. In addition, as COL Hadfield points out, they have to have good personalities/people skills. Gone are the days of The Right Stuff where you could have the gruff, hard-bitten, hard-assed stereotypical fighter pilot. In those days, you went up solo, and stayed up for hours-to-days. Now you have to fit in for months with an international crew.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is his describing an astronaut's life, only a very small percent of which involves space flight, and that only if you're lucky. Basically they train and study non-stop. All sorts of things: orbital mechanics, geography, and mostly what to do when things go wrong. Despite that, he's an optimist. He's spent so much time wargaming "what could kill be next," that he's comfortable handling whatever it is. This is one of the parts of the book I can relate to. I don't claim to be astronaut caliber (although I have a few good points), but certain parts of the book do speak to me.

Part the 1st that speaks to me )
Part the 2nd that speaks to me )
Related point to part the 2nd that speaks to me )
warriorsavant: (Quebec sait faire)
We interrupt our reportage of WCD to bring you a brief public service announcement (aka rant).

There are endless coffee shops and cafés in downtown Vancouver, all of which think they serve pastry. As a good Montrealer, I sneer at their pitiful attempts at pastry. Yet, I cannot sneer too hard, because of where I do my teaching clinic. I think JGH is an excellent hospital. Most parts of it seem to run more efficiently than comparable services at other hospitals, and ratings of its various departments across the province consistently come out at or near the top.

My one gripe is the poor quality of the pastry. Yeah, I know, any food in a hospital is traditionally horrible, and there it also has to be kosher, and kosher food has to follow certain restrictions. I don't claim to be a Rabbi or learnéd in Talmudic wisdom, but I don't think any of those restrictions require low quality pastry.  We're in Quebec, for goodness sake! We're claim to be a Distinct Society, and isn't that supposed to include good pastry? What is that useless provincial government of ours doing? Instead of squandering resources preserving the "threatened" French language (the percent of speakers of which in Quebec has been climbing decade after decade), they should be looking at the culinary life, which is far more important to French Culture than the language. Instead of wasting our hard-earned tax dollars on the Office de la language française, they should set up the Office de la pâtisserie and actually do something useful and beneficial.
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
Monday
I am attending the World Congress of Dermatology, which is the world's biggest Derm convention, although it only happens once every 4 years (the American Academy of Derm winter meeting is the biggest annual one). It's in Vancouver this year, so in effect Canada is hosting, so I feel obligated to attend and support the home team. I also need to get caught up on my CME. Most years I get about 3 times the required amount, but I've been rather busy the past 14 months or so.

In a way, I’m not happy about going. This is the first time I'll be away, leaving my family alone, since Nom's been pregnant. I was away for a few days early January of this year (Army reunion). Hedgefund had been born, but was less mobile than now, and Nom wasn't pregnant. We'll all get over it, but I was highly ambivalent about going, even if Nom did give me a hall pass.

En route )

First day there )

Airports

Jun. 9th, 2015 07:57 pm
warriorsavant: (Meh)
Although I like the conference well enough, there is becoming a sameness about all cities. (Yeah, yeah, I'll post about what I'm doing soon enough.) Today read an article that stuck a cord in me about that very thing. It was by Eva Fairbanks in the Washington Post (not, I'm NOT in Washington - patience!) about airports all being the same. However, she mentions that downtowns are becoming the same way: all chain stores and restaurants. Why travel, when you can see, eat, and do, the same things back home (or via the internet). http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/06/03/the-real-reason-airports-depress-us/

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