Damn, frickin’ potholes!

I know it’s part of living in snowball city, but I still hate them. I especially hate the ones you can’t see at night until you either graze them or hit them. I went through a substantial one Monday night as I was exiting the Deerfoot. It was hiding under a puddle and of course it was under the bridge and it was dark and my windows were gummed up with spray when I went through it. It made the most horrendous sound and I thought for sure I’d either blown the tire/popped it off the rim or cracked a shock/strut. I had slowed down to 65 (instead of 100), but still it was too fast. I managed to make it home and nothing appeared to be damaged. I drove to work both Tuesday and Wednesday without problems. It was only by chance last night that a co-worker was walking as I was pulling out of the parking lot when she flagged me down. She said it sounded like I was dragging something or my engine was acting up. Nothing was obvious in the dark, so I drove on with my window down and I heard it too. I pulled over into another parking lot and looked under the car. A cover under the engine area had popped open and was dragging (possibly since Monday night). I couldn’t push it back up, so I called Simon to let him know. (He was out at his second event of the evening and I was supposed to pick him up and drive home.) I drove to Knibbe Automotive via Memorial and Crowchild to limit my speed and, hopefully, to prevent the cover from being ripped ff completely. I called them and left a couple of messages and then took the train home.
I finally got through to them this morning and apparently it was just the underside cover (they’ve had a few given the road conditions around town). They re-secured it, changed my oil (it was nearly due so I figured get done while it’s there if time permitted), and checked for other damage from the pothole fiasco (nothing found). Now I’m just waiting to go and pick it up.
I was worried it would be a major issue or that they couldn’t get to it today. Another storm system is coming through and Simon’s car doesn’t have snow tires, so I’d be forced to use public transportation to get to and fro work tonight during a snow-freezing rain storm which would be at least an hour’s commute if everything ran smoothly (and we know it frequently doesn’t when the weather goes south).

Preparing for the Big Thaw

Calgary is expected to experience the chinook effect over the next week with forecasted temperatures reaching 16 degrees! This last happened back in 2009 and, apparently, it was a mess in every possible way across the city. In preparation for that event, I’ve been following advice and scraped away as much snow and ice build up away from the foundation of the house as well as making sure the drainpipes are clear/exposed. When I went out back to do the same, I was amazed. We had had this one replaced a few years back because it was old and tatty and was prone to build up. Well, this is what it currently looks like:

Hopefully it won’t warm up too quickly and cause flooding issues.

Big Trouble in Little City

This morning I received an email from my supervisor informing us that all classes had been cancelled due to an emergency evacuation this morning and to inform our students about the cancellation. So I updated my class website and emailed all those that I could thinking nothing much of the evacuation. It was probably a broken water main or a gas leak or something of that sort. It wasn’t until I put a post up on Facebook that I learned the truth. Stephanie was the first to respond with:

It was a real Joe Dirt moment : Whaaaaaat?!  I immediately scoured the news sites to find a story about it and eventually found it on Global News Calgary. I also sent it to my supervisor.  I doubt there is/was a bomb, but this is as close as I’ve come to a situation like this.  I’ll post updated news stories as they become available.

Part of me wishes I had been a fly on the wall when they were announcing/carrying out the evacuation.  Columbia is in an industrial park, so there are many other businesses on site and no central communications system in place. It’s not like in high school where the principal can come over the PA system and direct everyone. It’s more a matter of phone calls, emails, and texts flying back and forth and people going from classroom to classroom informing teachers.  There are only 2 exits from this site and I can only imagine it looked like a scene from a Hollywood disaster movie with cars everywhere, people running around willy-nilly (some with children) on icy surfaces, and traffic jams all topped off by the fire department, the police department, and the bomb squad showing up. Where’s John McClane when we need him?

Even if this was a hoax, I imagine security measures will be examined and/or beefed up. Maybe everyone will need a special pass to open building doors or every vehicle will need to have a parking pass and be registered or something.  I’m guessing some training for doing evacuations will happen too.  We have a procedure for lock downs, but that would’ve been useless today.


The president of the college sent around an email today with a bit more explanation:

“As you may be aware Columbia College received a bomb threat March 7 at approximately 10:45 am. We were informed that a bomb would go off in the next 30 minutes (11:15 am)”

As predicted the college will be reviewing and amending their emergency response procedures in light of this incident.

Conference -Day 2

I’m afraid I wasn’t as gung-ho as I was yesterday. I was awake early, but I overdid it in the gym and I think the Exercycle used different leg/butt muscles. I’m hoping the stairs will be enough exercise for today.

The day started with checking out of the hotel and checking my suitcase at the front desk. I wasn’t about to wheel it around the conference today. Besides, the bus will pick us up at the hotel at 5-ish. There were no keynote speakers so it was a breakfast of egg McMuffins or burritos and fruit and straight off to the sessions.

The first session was called: First and Second Language Acquisition and Learning-American Sign Language and English. It was something completely different. I don’t have and deaf students, but I’ve always wondered about sign language and ESL. It was very interesting, especially the approach to L2 acquisition and the link between L1 and L2 when it comes to language learning.

The second session was Multi-level, Minimal Fuss. This session showed creative ways to alter activities and tests for multi-level classes without having to research for hours to have separate things for each level.

Then it was lunch. It was butter chicken with salads, buns, and beets. There were also 3 kinds of pizza. The dessert was key lime cheesecakes with mango cooliss.

The third session was Anything but routine, routine. This was a workshop in using daily agendas to both inform the class of the day’s agenda and give them real workplace skills.

The final session was Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Module. This had to be the best of both days. There was instruction on how to make modules as well as numerous resources to use in the process and for lesson planning. It’s the PBLA Training we all should have had and it was just a home grown workshop from the Edmonton Catholic School Board.

Most sessions ended early and the closing speech was only 10 minutes long. By Monday everyone will be emailed a link to access all handouts, slides, and videos from all the sessions. I can’t wait.

Now we’re en route home. It’s a smaller bus with no bathroom. We’ll be stopping in Red Deer for supps and bathroom break. W should be home around 9.30/10.00.

Conference – Day 1

My day officially started at 4.30 when the crashing waves from my ambient playlist jolted me out of sleep.  I had been dozing in and out since 1.30. I lay in bed trying to block out the noise, but had to get up and turn it down. Unfortunately, it no longer drowned out my snoring roommate. (Tonight I will turn it down a bit so the transition between songs isn’t so drastic.) By 5.00 I thought, “screw it, I’m getting up.” I went to the fitness room and started on the bike. It was one of those typical gym exercise bikes, not upright like a real bike, so I changed to the treadmill after 5 minutes.  I wasn’t the first person there.  Some guy was pumping iron. By 6.00 I was back in the room and getting ready – my roommate was still sawing wood.

I woke her up at 7 and by 8 we were at the conference centre.  We had a delicious breakfast (sorry forgot to take a pic) of bacon, scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, pastries, juice, smoothies, and coffee/tea before the welcomes, introductions, and keynotes got started. After that was a quick break of muffins, hummus and pita, and fruit before the actual session started.

I went to the PBLA Digital Tracking Tools session first.  It was interesting to see the behind-the-scenes, but more aimed at program supervisors. Then it was lunch.  There were a few options. I went for the caesar salad with meatballs and tomato soup. There was a biscotti-tiramisu dessert as well.

After lunch I went to the Maximizing the CLB Support Toolkit session where I got a refresher on this toolkit/manual. It was good to look at it again after having taught a few sessions.  Now I think I can better plan assessments. There was another short coffee break after this and then the final session: Task Based Planning – Starting with the End in Mind. There were so many people wanting to participate we had to move to the dining hall to accommodate everyone.  It too was a refresher on module planning and assessment building.

There was a quick 15 minute closing and door prizes (I didn’t win anything) before it was all over. I headed back to the hotel and emailed everyone to see who was doing what.  (Unlike the other groups here, we sure don’t have any organization for extra-curricular activities.)  we found out last minute that a few went to a local pub. Cleo and I hustled over to the Sherlock Holmes pub.  I had a Guinness and a fish taco. Both were delicious. The rest had burgers and fish and chips. We all headed over to the Westin for the networking mixer. It was pretty low key. The drinks weren’t free and the food was up-market. I had a few olives and zucchini before I left. To be honest I was tired after the conference.

So far I haven’t learned much new, but revisiting materials I greased through to get certification back in the beginning was worthwhile. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

The Night Before the Conference

Tomorrow and Thursday is the ATESL IRCC-funded Language Training Learning Event at the Shaw Conference Centre here in Edmonton.

Our trip got off to a slow start because the bus was late. On the plus side we had a replacement driver and a full-sized coach with a bathroom! We stopped in Red Deer for a take out supper at Tim Horton’s. We managed to roll into downtown by 7.10. The Westin Hotel was the first stop and the bus got stuck in their parking lot. 😆 I’m rooming with a fellow teacher, Cleo, and we’re on the sixth floor of the Marriott Courtyard with a view of the river. We’ve already checked in, so we just need to be at the Centre for 8 to get the provided breakfast. Lunch and snacks are also provided each day.

I anticipate there will be a zillion ESL teachers at this thing, so I’m not sure what workshops I’ll be attending each day. I’ll attempt to update at the end of each day. There’s a networking mixer tomorrow night, but other than that I don’t know of any other plans.

An Afternoon at the Gours’

Today we went over to our friends’ house for lunch and board games. We hadn’t seen them since at least December – it may have been longer. We decided on a potluck lunch theme which turned out to be homemade fries, home made hummus, pitas, a gnocchi salad, a spinach salad with apples, and some fish sticks. It was all very delicious even if it was a rag tag mix.
After lunch we played 2 cards games: Sushi Go! and Love Letter. Both are good games that are quick to play.
After a couple of rounds of games we moved to the living room where they had a karaoke machine set up. I’d never had the chance to do karaoke before and it was quite nerve-racking. My voice was really quavering in terror as I belted out Minogue’s In Your eyes. 🤣 I got used to it and ended up singing 4 songs. Miranda sang 2 and a duet with Simon and Ian sang 1. Simon ended up singing 4 too. It’s actually quite fun once you get over the nerves.
We ended up leaving around 5.30 and braved the icy conditions along the way. It was a great afternoon and I hope we can get together soon.

New Glasses

Today my new glasses came in. For the first time ever I have bifocals (which officially makes me a geezer) and a pair of prescription sunglasses. It was cheaper to go with 2 pairs instead of the just the one.
I have to admit the bifocals are weird. It’s like having water on your lenses. I have to get used to not looking down in them when I’m not reading. Plus the little line is distracting at times, like going downstairs. I decided to get bifocals instead of the progressives because the 3 tiered lenses bugged me. My distance part was so small thanks to the frame size and I don’t really need the mid-range for computer work since I changed jobs. It might have worked better with my new ones, but I chose not to go with it this time.
I hope I get used to them. I may still have to go back to progressive otherwise.

Of course Simon keeps calling me Sam (from Cloudy with Meatballs):

    or I could be Johnny Test’s sister, Susan:     

The Library of the Future …Today

Just up the road from us in Rocky Ridge a new YMCA opened this month. Inside it there’s a branch of our local library. I had heard about its futuristic design and today Ian and I went to see it.
I had requested a book and chose there to pick it up. It’s a very small branch, maybe the size of a master bedroom, but without walls. It’s just inside the main entrance. What’s special is the lack of human staff. Everything is operated by computers. You scan your card and choose the book(s) you want to take out and they pop out of a compartment in a wall. Ian thought it was cool. It’s not intended for serious research or book-browsing, but it has a few stacks of books and benches for reading. I’m not sure what happens if you try to take a book without checking it out – maybe there’s a perimeter scanner that goes off if unscanned books cross it.

The best thing is we can walk or ride up to it when the weather is better. It’s definitely more convenient.

The new YMCA/Library

The library

The “staff”

The pick up compartment