A Little Too Close

Last night on our way to Bow Cycle we were passed by a couple of screaming fire trucks going into Tuscany. The kids watched them go by then blurted out something about a lot of smoke in the sky behind us. We weren’t in the best position to see where it was coming from, but it looked like over near the Tuscany train station.

The smoke was thick and, thanks to the huge winds, blowing around like nobody’s business. I still couldn’t really gawk while I was driving, but Simon was tempted to stay home and keep watch because of how close it was to us. Once he saw the fire trucks and the direction the winds were blowing he decided to carry on to Bow Cycle as planned.

It turned out the fire was in the grass between Stoney Trail and the bike path. No news yet on the cause, but likely a smoker flicked a butt into the dry grass. Part of Stoney Trail and the Link into Tuscany was closed and traffic diverted via Crowchild. We must’ve gotten through the intersection not long before they closed it. It reopened not long after.

45 Today

Simon is 45 today.

The plans are a bit up in the air because the weather can be fickle. It’s the BCC Ladies’ Ride tonight and so he and Ian usually go for one at the same time. Unfortunately the weather is uncooperative and we’re not sure what’s going to happen, so that really affects the cake and dinner plans.

We were up early because I had a dental appointment at 8. The kids finally straggled down after I blasted “Come On Get Happy” by the Partridge Family through the Apple TV upstairs. He managed to open his presents during breakfast:

  • a bike pedal wrench
  • a BCC vest
  • a pair of BCC arm warmers and leg warmers
  • a bottle of bourbon


Well the ride was called off.  Now we have to make up for it with a ride on the trainer. On the up side he can have his cake today and eat it too.  😜   We had a fry up of sorts- scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, tomatoes, and mushrooms for supper.  Then we had the German chocolate cake.

Happy Birthday Simon! ❤

Update from Montreal

Due to accidents and traffic on the highway, the group missed their original flight. TMC issued the following email:


Students will be delayed in their return from Montreal tonight.  There were two accidents on the highway getting to the Montreal airport this evening and despite their plan to have more than  two hours to spare, our group did not make it on their originally scheduled flight out of Montreal.  

Adjustments were quickly made to the return flight to Calgary.  Students were broken into two groups and will be on two different  flights from Montreal to Toronto, both leaving Montreal at approximately 8 pm local time and arriving in Toronto at 9:25 pm local time.  One group is with Mr. Brayton and Ms. Walsh and the other group is with Ms. Coles and Ms. Hierons.  They will regroup in Toronto and will all travel from Toronto to Calgary on Westjet Flight 675.  This flight is expected to arrive in Calgary at 12:25 am.  

You will receive a phone call from one of the TMC staff shortly confirming that you have received this message.

(Bad news which gets worse – due to the tight rescheduling they may not get a chance to grab supper and, of course, no kid has a credit card to buy something in flight.)

12:25 am!   Her first experience on a red eye flight. 😄  Now Simon and I have to flip a coin to see who goes and gets her. 🎲

Updated Saturday morning by Simon

Miranda is still in Montreal. The storm that blew through southern Ontario cancelled flights and she and her group stayed in Laval last night and will be flying back to Calgary sometime today. We still don’t have the official flight information.

The group will be staying at a hotel in Laval, Quebec tonight so you do not need to go to the Calgary airport tonight.

The tour company has arranged for a bus to pick up the group at the Montreal airport and take them to the hotel.  They are still working on flight arrangements for tomorrow.  We will know more in the next couple of hours about the flight arrangements home.  When I know more, I will send out another message like this, either later this evening or  tomorrow morning.

The teachers will ensure that the students have the money that they need for food and other incidentals.

Updated again by Simon

We now know what Miranda’s travel arrangements look like, and she will be home two days later than expected.

Good morning!

Thanks for your patience as the TMC staff worked to get the flights home sorted out.  They will be staying one more night in Montreal!  They are staying at the same hotel as last night, St. Martin in Laval.  They had breakfast in the hotel and the teachers have sorted out activities for today.  The plan is to have pizza for lunch and they have dinner reservations.

As there is not one flight tomorrow that can accommodate the whole group, the students and staff will be coming home in two groups tomorrow.  Both Westjet flights are direct from Montreal to Calgary.  One flight leaves Montreal at 12:45 pm tomorrow (Sunday) and the other leaves Montreal at 6pm tomorrow (Sunday).  The group that has the day in Montreal tomorrow has plans for the day

I just spoke to Miranda on the phone, and she is on the later of the two flights tomorrow. So today the whole group is going to a bug zoo, and perhaps to a movie tonight. (Infinity War?) Tomorrow it’s a science centre and then she’ll be on her way.

She sounded good. Trying to figure out which of her clothes are the least dirty… 👃🔜🤮

Last Update

Miranda should be back by 8:30 tonight.

The second group is through security in Montreal and at the gate.  At this point, the flight is leaving on time.  Please check arrivals with Westjet before heading to the airport in case this changes.

Have a good rest of your Sunday!

Okay, really the last update

She’s home! 🏡

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.