Thinking Noise

I’m really good at tuning out sound around me when I need to work, which comes in handy when you work on a floor with 120 other cubicled people. I’m able to listen to music and, depending on what I’m working on, listen to podcasts. The only time I find myself distracted by others talking (and at a reasonable level, I might add–I have polite cubicle-mates!) is when I need to read and absorb something. During those times, I need to plug in and I cannot listen to music.

I’ve been using binaural beats apps for a few years now to help provide background noise (I have a box fan running while I work but its purpose is keeping my 77 degree office bearable). More recently, I began using Binaural Beats, which has a  simple interface and a timer function, which gradually transitions you from one mental wavelength (focus) to another (alertness). The science and health benefits of binaural beats aside, it works for me.

Another resource that I like: myNoise.net. I prefer the Flying Fortress (propeller noise) generator but there are many others.

Recent Discoveries

Note: “recent” being the last two days; “discoveries” being things that only recently entered my awareness. Read about other such “discoveries” from my trip to British Columbia thus far.


I did not think anything would match the aviation excitement of driving into Victoria while the Snowbirds were buzzing around over the city. I was happy to be wrong.

Tim and I traversed an open and nearly empty parking lot along the harbor to get to the Red Fish Blue Fish for lunch. It must have been the low thrum of big radial radial engines that prompted me to scan the sky.

I was so stunned to see the CAF’s B-17 flying right up the harbor toward us that I mistook her for a Super Fort (pretty dumb of me–STUNNED, I was). By the time I had stopped gawping and fumbled for my phone thinking, ‘I have to text Dad!’ she had already banked northward toward Victoria International Airport. So on we pressed on towards the dock, where lunch awaited.

Bottle label reads: Phillips Sparkmouth Ginger AleOr to be accurate, we awaited lunch. However, it was here that I learned that fish and chips, made fresh out of an upcycled storage container, can be AMAZING. This is also where I discovered the best tasting cane sugar ginger ale I’ve ever had. Sadly, Phillips does not ship to the US. *has sad*

Bronze sculpture of hands tying a rope to a mooring ring by artist Crystal PrzybilleThis bronze sculpture was somewhat unsettling to happen upon. After some searching, I found that this sculpture was one of a dozen sculptures meant to represent Victoria’s past. The public art walking tour is called The Hands of Time by artist Crystal Przybille. Context makes for not-creepy hands!

I learned that Hatley Castle served as a filming location for several movies, including those in the X-Men franchise. It has beautiful English gardens. Lots of weddings happen here.Front entrance of Hatley Castle. Inside of the circle drive is a gardenI discovered too many things to write while walking the Dallas Road Waterfront Trail. I’ve most enjoyed watching the water and sky change with the weather. Blue water laps the pebble beach littered with driftwood.Did someone plant these wildflowers that are clinging to the rocks?Wild flowers cling to the steep cliffsideThe book cover reads: Cover of We All Wore Blue: Funny, romantic and moving - a young girl's adventure in the wartime WAAF by Muriel Gane PushmanI found that I need to read more about Emily Carr upon visiting her childhood residence–a fascinating person. In the meantime, I have this to read, from a local bookshop on Cook Street: We All Wore Blue by Muriel Gane Pushman, who wrote about her experiences in the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during WWII.

Of Tea and Scones

For no reason at all, I woke up early. But this wasn’t so bad:

Looking out of the second story window over the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Oh, good morning.

After breakfast, we headed downtown to the harbor and played tourist. Here’s herself, Queen Victoria, standing before the Parliament Buildings.

The queen stands very straight, holding a scepter. Her left foot is extended however, giving her the impression of motion
Statue of Queen Victoria before the British Columbia Parliament Buildings.

I love how straight and tall she stands–and yet the sculptor managed to add the suggestion of movement, with the extension of Victoria’s left foot. You know this one had a wicked flying front snap kick in her.

Just to the east of the Parliament Buildings is the Royal B.C. Museum, where we went next. Good collections, really well-done exhibits. The Modern History Galleries were fun. There were lots of kids engrossed in the interactive exhibits, like the Endless Seas.

An impressive wooly mammoth at the Royal B.C. Museum
A young girl’s exuberance gets the better of her.

I found the exhibit on First Peoples’ languages fascinating. It’s a complex topic and multimedia heavy–the curators handled it well. I enjoyed the First Peoples Galleries the most. Totem hall gives special acknowledgment of the art and aesthetics of First Peoples works. As the museum website points out, up until the last decade or so, First Peoples works had been presented as artifacts, in an anthropological context. Material cultural is fascinating but its study can have a distancing effect–the study of The Other. Art, on the other hand, is transformative, radical.

A Nisga'a carved mask. The museum desciption: Conceited White-woman Mask
There were dozens of beautiful masks at the Royal B.C. Museum. This one, however, won it all. Photo by Timothy Johnson.

There was a Native Plant Garden I didn’t have time to visit (rats!). Three hours was not enough time. And today was high tea day at The Empress.

The Empress sits caddy corner to the Parliament buildings, with a view of the harbor. This statue of Emily Carr was fun. She’s looking over her shoulder at her monkey… which had an adorable name. Google will know it.

Statue of Emily car seated, with her dog, monkey, and notebook. The Fairmont Empress Hotel stands behind the statue
A statue of Emily Carr! With The Empress in the background.

Afternoon tea at The Empress was a complete and utter indulgence. I have absolutely no regrets–

A three-tier servers holds bite sized treats, scones with heavy cream and jam, and finger sandwiches--at The Empres afternoon tea
Someone was a good little Anglophile today.

No… I’ve run out of steam and I haven’t even told you about the amazing chili oil at Pizzeria Primo Strada! In brief: yum.

Finally, this would-be Canadian legislator:

Planes, Ferries, and Automobiles

I spent most of today on a plane, car, or ferry; however, after delays on I-5 in Seattle, delays at the border crossing, and heavy traffic for an airshow(!), I find myself in Victoria, British Columbia.

File under: life is too short, Tim and I decided to do a trip this year–and not one that is tacked onto some conference I have to attend. A real vacation. No work. I couldn’t afford to do London like I had wanted (bummer–someday!). However, the Pacific Northwest is amazing. Why not go further north and west? Bonus: the region is called British Columbia for a reason. I can’t make it to the U.K. but dammit, I’ll be sipping tea and nomming scones in about fifteen hours.

So first impressions: everyone really is that friendly. There are a ton of pines here. Like TONS. And water everywhere. The variety of accents is surprising–even if it shouldn’t be–with many regional dialects converging on Victoria for summer vacation. That’s it really. Like I said, lots of time spent confined to a seat today.

Oh, so this airshow? 30-40,000 people showed up because: RCAF Snowbirds! Here’s a news report. We’d be stuck in traffic downtown somewhere and hear them buzzing overhead. The RCAF website calls the sound of the CT-114 Tutor distinctive. This statement is not some sort of lame PR fast one. I can’t describe the sound.

We never got to the Dallas Road waterfront to see the airshow properly (the place we’re staying is *right* on the water–it would have been the perfect viewing spot!) but we caught some incredible aerial acrobatics. So… yeah. I managed to catch an airshow on my first day ever in the great nation to our north.

Now photos, of which there were not many to choose from.

I'm on a boat. The Strait of Georgia is pictured, with a sliver of pine-covered land of what I believe is Galiano Island.
I’m on a boat.
Weaving through the Strait of Georgia. The forground shows the deck of the boad, with liferaft, "Spirit of British Columbia, Victoria." Dramatically sloping land masses (pines and rock) jut into the strait. Blue blue sky.
Weaving through the Strait of Georgia

Also, there have been cougar sightings in the city as recent as today. I remain vigilant!

Canyon Views

Highlights from Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.

A weekend in June

A quiet weekend. I did some work stuff (it’s conference season), shopped for some grown up clothes, and watched a number of episodes from season 2 of Orange is the New Black. I even cooked. And cleaned.

I’m about a third of the way into the final book in Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy. I predict that Lireal, the Second Assistant Librarian, is going to be kicking some serious Dead ass. Sam is far less annoying in this book and I expect to learn about his mysterious power. Above all, I’m looking forward to Mogget being terrifying again.

I’ve been using a Jawbone Up 24 for about a week now. I like that it integrates with LoseIt (and tons of other apps). It’s surprisingly comfortable to wear at night and the sleep data it collects seems to be about as accurate as can be expected for $140 sans physician’s care. The pedometer data seems to be in line with clip-on belt pedometers I’ve used in the past. The mood tracking seems goofy but that too, is a data point. Tracking energy levels seems to be the intent: I feel lousy doing on-and-off again stretches of caffeine intake or I sleep restfully on nights with more water intake and physical activity during the day.

I didn’t learn anything new because of this device. I know that my desk job is hastening my demise and that I should get enough sleep. I suppose the real value is in data collection and correlation, and the sense of accountability that comes with that big picture, painted in brightly colored graphs.

And now for a picture of my dinner. Because the Internet.

Sausage and peppers

Cold feet

It’s faculty annual report time, in which I’m forced to do some Very Serious writing about myself. I’m taking a break (of sorts) and would just like to be KNOWN:

There are few things in life I despise more than wet socks.

There. I said it! Farewell, 2013.

Posturing and Empty Gestures

An article from the Indy Star today:

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and state Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon, Thursday said they believed more cops—called school resource officers—in schools will keep them more safe and proposed a bill aimed at making that happen… The bill would set aside $10 million in state money and allow public schools to apply for matching grants to hire officers to work in schools.

NO.

Hiring teachers and librarians and compensating them fairly? YES.
Funding arts and music programs? YES.
Increasing foreign language instruction? YES.
Supporting athletics programs? YES.

I’m tired of empty political gestures. And, judging by the negative backlash in every media outlet I’ve checked, so is the rest of the constituency.

Miss Sophie

Sophie adopted us one whole year ago today.

She adjusted to life with us pretty quickly. She was so mild-mannered when we brought her home. For awhile, it seemed like she didn’t know how to play. Now, Sophie plays with toys, runs around, gets into places she shouldn’t, and on the rare occasion, nips hands that aren’t petting her enough. Clearly, this is her house.

I adore her chirpy, little meows. I am definitely fortunate to be her human.