Back to Vancouver

August 27th, 2006, 9:59 pm PST by Greg

We’re back to Vancouver, after a bit of a Rube Goldberg day of flying. I’m back for the semester. Kat is back for a week or so.

The remainder of Oli and Tina’s wedding festivities were very cool. Details and pictures will have to wait until I have a really firm grasp on what city and timezone I’m in.

Lunenburg

August 23rd, 2006, 8:58 pm PST by Greg

We just got to Lunenburg. We checked in to the hotel and went over to Oli’s parents’.

What’s the word I’m looking for here… “remote”. It’s like an hour drive from Halifax to Lunenburg (where we’re staying) and another hour to Oli’s parent’s, all down nasty little two-lane roads. Driving back to the hotel at midnight remined me that I have gotten soft—that was a weekly thing when I was in high school, and I thought nothing of it. Now, I’m old and worried about hitting deer.

One of two things is clearly true: (1) there’s something cool out here, and they’re trying to keep it a secret, or (2) there’s nothing out here that anybody wants to drive to.

Since Lunenburg is a UNESCO world heritage site, I’m still holding out hope for (1).

But, Oli’s family is fun, and it promises to be a good few days with them.

Three provinces and a wedding

August 21st, 2006, 5:20 pm PST by Kat

We were in three provinces today: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Weird. Less that a week ago I was in the states! It seems so long ago!

Oli and Tina’s wedding was on Saturday (there are a few highlights in the Gallery). It was TONS of fun. Crazy hectic, but fun. Tina looked gorgeous, Oli was dashing, Francois was in a suit (and looked quite good!), and everyone and everything else was beautiful. Tina and her father arrived at the church in a white vintage car. During the ceremony we held gold crowns over Tina and Oli’s heads (let me tell you, I’m glad Tina isn’t any taller or else my arm would have fallen off!!!). Afterwards we went to the Chateau Vaudruil (spelling?), had pictures taken, and then enjoyed one of the best meals I’ve ever had: roasted vegetables and bocconcini with tomato appetizer, mushroom rissoto, berry sorbet, filet mignon (perfectly cooked) with potato and veg, arugala salad, and then yummy wedding cake and a dessert table! During and after dinner we danced, ran around during a scavenger hunt (Greg can take his belt off in record time, but not his socks – go figure!), hula hooped, and danced some more. Tina and Oli definitely know how to throw a fun party! Can’t wait until Vogler’s Cove!

We’re now in PEI. Going to drive around the island tomorrow, and then head back to Nova Scotia on Wednesday.

Road Report

August 20th, 2006, 1:54 pm PST by Greg

Montreal has come and gone, and we have just hit Halifax.

Montreal was busy. We got in Wednesday, and went to dinner at Oli’s sister’s. On Thursday, our old housemate Mike drove in from Ottawa (where he is now gainfully employed) and we spent they day with him. Friday was the wedding rehersal.

Saturday was the wedding. I think it was successful by all accounts. It was fancy. Also, schmancy.

The ceremony was in an beautiful and non-air-conditioned church. To give you an idea: my water-resistant watch now has condensation in the face. I was sweating more than “water resistant” could take. Oli spent the ceremony counting drops of sweat that ran down his back. The count was very high—apparently, the men in his family are sweaters.

I took some pictures. And by “some”, I mean I filled a 2GB flash card with more than 500 pictures. It will take some time to wade through, but I’ll try to get some highlights together soon. There are definitely some gems in there. (Ever seen François and Oli hula-hoop? You will.)

Our schedule is much less full now. Basically: go to place X; do whatever we feel like doing.

For now I’ll leave you with these: (follow the link for larger versions)

The happy couple The party

On the road again

August 16th, 2006, 4:41 am PST by Greg

So ends my summer in North Carolina. The cab to take us to the airport is coming at 8:30—a quite leisurely time compared to the flights I’m used to taking.

So, this may be a travel blog for the next two weeks, or we may be incommunicado.

All I know is that I set a vacation message on my email for the first time in about three years.

Upcoming Trip

August 9th, 2006, 8:37 pm PST by Greg

As many of you know, we will soon be heading out to attend Oli and Tina’s wedding.

They are having the wedding in Montreal on August 19th in Montreal. Big, festive, Ukranian Orthodox. They are having a second reception in Nova Scotia the next weekend. Small, casual, pot luck. Come to think of it, any ideas of cool things we can bring to a pot luck while on the road?

As we were invited to both, we decided to make a vacation out of it:

Aug 16
Fly to Montreal.
Aug 16–19
Staying near the Montreal Airport and Tina’s parents. Not many plans for Montreal. Mike may be road-tripping from Ottawa to say hi.
Aug 19–20
Chateau-Vaudreuil, where their reception is. We’re staying there that night for convenience of it.
Aug 20
Fly to Halifax.
Aug 20–21
Staying near the Halifax Airport. Just a place to sleep.
Aug 21–23
Staying in Charlottetown and seeing PEI for a couple of days.
Aug 23–27
Staying in Lunenburg, which is near Oli’s parents’. I’m looking forward to a quiet couple of days. Maybe with some lobster.
Aug 27
Fly back to Vancouver.

I put together a Google Earth tour of the vacation. Open this file in Google Earth. To take the tour, double-click on each placemark in-order. Make sure you double-click the blue link for each placemark: this will check the placemark (so you see the label and marker), and fly to it (so you see it in the map window).

Meatfest 2006

August 8th, 2006, 8:17 am PST by Kat

This past weekend Greg and I rented a car (as our POS can’t go on the highway for fear of losing it’s back axle and killing us spectacularly) and went on a BBQ mission: to attempt to compare the Eastern and Western styles of North Carolina BBQ. On Friday night we stayed local and had what Adam said was the best eastern style BBQ around – Bullock’s BBQ. We had tried to go to Bullock’s the week before, but were detered by the long line-up at 7 pm on a Friday night. So, this time we were prepared. We went at 5 pm and even beat most of the older people in the door. We had the family platter, which was BBQ (chopped pork), fried chicken, green beans, coleslaw, fries, hushpuppies and brunswick stew (shredded chicken and pork in a light tomato-basted stew). It came family-style. There was a ton of food. I must say though, I wasn’t totally impressed. The BBQ was okay, but not really all that tangy for Eastern style, the chicken was bland despite being deep fried (no 7 secret herbs and spices there) and the green beans were soft and mushy even though we think they weren’t canned. Now, to remind everyone, Adam is from Lexington, the capital of Western-style NC BBQ. So, maybe he doesn’t like the tanginess that’s supposed to accompany Eastern-style BBQ, and therefore this place is his favorite of Eastern-style places. It was okay, but not great.
On Saturday we headed to Lexington, which is about 2 hours west of Chapel Hill and hosts a yearly BBQ festival. After getting a little lost trying to find it, we started off with lunch at Lexington Barbecue, another recommendation by Adam. We each had the BBQ sandwich, and shared an order of hushpuppies. I got an order of skins to go. Oh, and I tried Cheerwine, a NC cherry-flavored soda, which is sweet and pretty good. We finished off lunch with a slice of lemon meringue pie and a slice of chocolate pie. Everything at Lexington BBQ was good. It was also the place I got my first BBQ souvenir shirt. I’ve decided to get shirts from some of the places I go in NC and then afterwards make them into a souvenir quilt. We’ll see if that actually happens!

We did a litte sightseeing in Lexington (drove down Main St.) where we took some pictures of the decorated pigs they have on the street (thing whales in Vancouver). Then it was off to Winston-Salem, the home of the first Krispy Kreme. We went to the only Krispy Kreme in town, and got 4 doughnuts. Upon looking around the store, we realized that they didn’t have any historic plaque or anything saying that this was the first store. Sadly, I don’t think it was. Oh well…

In attempting to do a little local sightseeing we found a part of town that is a preserved (read touristy) Moravian village, complete with people in period costume. The Moravians were apparently the local settlers from Czechoslovakia (I think) via Germany. We walked around the town (only a few buildings – most of which you have to pay to get into and see re-enacted displays) and went to the bakery where we bought crispy-thin Moravian cookies.

Then it was back to Chapel Hill via Greensboro, where we stopped to pick up dinner to go (more Western-style BBQ). This time is was back to Stamey’s BBQ, where we had already gone with Greg’s parents. We got a sliced BBQ plate with beans and hushpuppies and a chopped BBQ plate with fries and hushpuppies to go.

On our way home with stopped at JR ‘something’ (‘outlet’, ‘liquidators’, something like that). On our way to Lexington we kept seeing billboards for JR. Greg figured this place was probably crappy, but may be interesting. It was. This was the first place I’ve been where you could get miscellaneous crap (the liquidation part), cigarettes, discount books, collectible dolls (the whole back of the place was dolls), or cigars (a room-sized humidor) all under one roof! Needless to say, we didn’t buy anything, but it was worth the stop just to see it all.

Once we got home we had our BBQ plates, and then later that night Greg didn’t feel so good. I think having that much meat in 2 days didn’t really sit well with his stomach, and he thought he was going to throw up. But luckily, that didn’t happen. So, Meatfest 2006 was a success.

So far, Western-style NC BBQ seems to be our favorite, but we’re going to give Allen and Sons BBQ another shot. This time we’re going to order the BBQ sandwich to make it more comparable to what we had a Lexington BBQ and Stamey’s BBQ.

Near-death experience

August 3rd, 2006, 1:33 pm PST by Kat

Last night we were sleeping quite soundly and peacefully. Then all of a sudden I felt something on my arm. In my sleep I swatted at it. Then I felt it again on another part of my arm. Again, still mostly aspeel, I swatted at it. Then when I felt it the third time, realization hit and I bolted up, more awake than I’ve ever been, swinging my arms around like a madwoman. I think I even let out a little scream, which woke Greg up. He thought I was having a nightmare. “There’s a bug!” I yelled. I think it’s on the floor. Greg, who was now half-awake had the brilliant idea of turning on the lights. I did, and we didn’t see anything. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw something dart under the covers. “It’s in the bed!” I yelled. We threw back the covers, and there it was. A 2″-long cockroach! That’s what was on me!!!!!! GROSS!!!! Greg ended up getting a plastic bag, catching it, and squashing it. I say it was a near death experience because I almost had a heart attack. At first all I could picture was a black widow spider. Only now do I realize that if it had been a spider, I probably wouldn’t have felt it. Anyways, once Greg’s in Vancouver I’m carrying a can of Raid around the house with me. GROSS!!!!

All of this happened after we had already had a bug incident the evening before. I saw a roach- or beetle-like thing crawl under the desk. We think it was a cicada, but now after looking at pictures on the web, I’m not so sure. Anyways, Greg vacuumed it up, and taped the hose end shut so it wouldn’t get out. I think maybe whatever was in the vacuum may have been the cockroach that attacked me. It was probably pissed that we had vacuumed it and somehow got out and attacked me.

Anyways, that was my near-death experience. I’m happy to be alive.

My Life

August 1st, 2006, 11:08 am PST by Greg

As most of you know, I’m working at home while in Chapel Hill. I’m grinding away on revisions on the CMPT 165 distance ed materials, and a few other things. I’m starting to get bored with working at home—I have to remind myself to go outside every day or two.

So, what does one do when working at home? Well, watch TV on the side, of course. Daytime TV isn’t generally all that compelling, but I have settled into a routine:

10:00–11:00: Maximum Exposure (on Spike)
11:00–12:00: World’s Most Amazing Videos (on Spike)
12:00–1:00: World’s Wildest Police Videos (on Spike)
1:00–2:00: Cops (on FX)
2:00–3:00: The New Detectives, Case Studies in Forensic Science (on Discovery)

Mmmmm… trashy. I think “Wildest Police Videos” is probably my favourite. It would be a definite win if not for the lame opening where they claim to be trying to educate people about… blah, blah, blah.

We’re still alive

August 1st, 2006, 8:55 am PST by Kat

I haven’t blogged for a week, but there isn’t really much to say. But, here goes anyways.

We’ve been working on getting the log cabin neat and tidy and Sunday we had incentive. We had the Sockman and Burmeister labs over for dinner. Actually, is was only half the Burmeister lab as 2 of the women are in Panama doing fieldwork, and their tech and her husband couldn’t make it. Lucky for us, as I’m not sure there’s enough room for both full labs. Anyways, Greg made salmon with onions, dill, and lemon; garlic mashed potatoes; steamed green beans and strawberry-blueberry compote to go over ice cream. All went well, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. They also all seem to like the quirkiness that is my new home, so that’s nice.

Speaking of the new home, the pictures of the fully furnished log cabin are now up in the gallery. I’m still working out (with Suyoko) what the color scheme should be, so the sky blue futon cover will soon be gone, and all three of the white bookcases will have fabric hanging in front of them. Just have to figure out what kind of fabric. It’s slightly difficult to “design” the log cabin because all of the furniture was handed down to us from the people we subletted our old place from or found near (but not in!) dumpsters. So, of course, nothing matches. But, I’m working on that.

On the science side, I’m working on my NIH proposal to get funding for the rest of my post-doc. If I don’t get any $$ in this round, I may be coming home sooner than expected! Last year I was running around frantically trying to get reference letters because one of my committee members was on vacation and didn’t leave a letter before he left, and the other had written a letter but didn’t inform me that she had sent it, and then promptly left for a conference where she was incommunicado for a week. Luckily both Jim and Francois (old members of the Williams lab who now have spectacular positions at Max-Planck Institute for Ornithology and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research) wrote me letters at the last minute. This year I was prepared. I wrote to people early. Unfortunately I again missed Norbert, who again went to Germany. But, no worries, it was still early enough to contact Jim and Marilyn (one of my undergraduate project supervisors) to write me letters. Whew! Everyone had sent their letters out. I was calm. But that didn’t last long. To date, I have only received 3 of the 4 letters. The remaining one is Tony’s, my PhD supervisor, making this letter the most important one! Funnily enough, he was the first one to mail his letter on July 11. It is now August 1, and I still don’t have his letter. So, yet again, I was freaking out over reference letters getting in on time. This year, Oliver and Emily are the lifesavers as they are FexExing me a copy of the letter. Craziness! At least there’s still time for FedEx!

Catching birds is also not going well. I think for some reason there are no more HOFIs in Chapel Hill. Well, at least none around my traps! So, I’ve packed up my feeders at the one site I’ve been catching at and will move them to the original site that is closer to the department. Today is Adam’s last day, so I won’t have anyone to help me haul the traps out. So, being closer to the department will mean that I can still try to catch on my own until mid-August. But, the birds I do have are doing well. The conjunctivitis ones are getting better, and no new cases have developed. Yea!

New bites: 10 (including another one on my face which I think I got from a mosquito in my office). Total summer bite count: 63.