Monday, November 27, 2006

F'n cold

McMurray cold snap.
Balaclavas, block heaters.
Absolute zero.*

So I'm a bit of a science geek. I remember when I was learning about temperature in school and I asked my Dad about the logic behind the Fahrenheit temperature scale. You see, Celsius was understandable: zero is set at something basic like water freezing and 100 at water boiling. Kelvin: set zero at the absolute coldest possible temperature and go up from there! My logical little brain could understand all that. ...But Fahrenheit? This bidness made no sense whatsoever. My Dad explained (and this is the equivalent of bedtime stories for us nerds) that at the time this dude Fahrenheit was inventing temperature he also set his scale at what he was able to measure as the coldest possible temperature. I just looked it up in my handy dandy conversion table and 0 F is equal to... MINUS EIGHTEEN CELSIUS (aka summer in Northern Alberta). That was the best he could do? Come on! It was -30 when I got off the plane last night in Fort McMurray and my nose hairs haven't unstuck since.

*I wanted to add many more "F'n" expletives, but there are just too few syllables in f'n haikus.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Can I just say I AM SO STOKED! Last night my good friend Joanna (who just got engaged, way to go Tim!) called and asked me the question I wasn't sure I would ever hear: "Will you do me the honour of becoming my bride(smaid)?" I was on the bus, crying, and bouncing off the walls. A bridesmaid? Me? What better excuse to be unabashedly girly, unapologetically giddy, and completely over the top? Not to mention the fun parties and pretty dresses. This is by far the best news I've had in awhile :)

And it gets even better: the wedding isn't until next October so this is just the beginning!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Imagine you're at the zoo. As you pass the monkey cage you stop to observe these amazing creatures. You're entranced. Their gestures, their interactions are so familiar... so reminiscent of human relations. One monkey stares at you with a look of such deep understanding in his soulful eyes that you think to yourself: Could they be thinking, feeling, wondering the same way we do? Could they be loving, hurting, dreaming like us? Are we really any different?

Then you notice the monkey doing something, but you can't quite figure out... oh, he's reaching around and grabbing... his own fecal matter. He then winds up, launches the warm mass, which lands squarely on your pant leg, and scampers off laughing.

Life is like a monkey: Just when you start to take it too seriously it throws shit at you as a reminder that you should just laugh at it and move along to the giraffe exhibit.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Shock de culture

Last week I was in Montreal (or more accurately Dorval) for work. I was a little nervous because the scope of the project was out of my comfort zone, not to mention that I had to conduct all business in French. However I fancy myself as having a little Quebecois in me (laid back and all that), so I figured a good attitude would get me through the week. It was with this mindframe that I sat, sweaty-palmed, as the opening meeting (attended by 10 French Canadians and me) was wrapping up. I had successfully navigated my way through a french introduction of myself (I even got a laugh out of everyone!) and was finally starting to relax a little.

We were discussing the logistics of our visit to the site, starting with a tour of the facility. At this point it should noted that this facility uses some nasty, smelly chemicals which we could potentially be exposed to during our tour. As we're just about finished, the Health & Safety rep practically yelled at me from across the room,

"Jessica, are you pregnant or think you might be? Even if you're just trying, there are certain areas you shouldn't visit."

Just like that. In front of everybody. I tried to maintain my composure, but I was so shocked! I checked my translation, was that actually what she said? Yes. Did she just ask me an incredibly personal and sensitive question in a room full of people I've never met before? Yes. Was everyone looking at me waiting for an answer? YES! I imediately thought of using humour as self-defense and saying something like "That would imply that I've actually had sex in the last 2 months, so no!" But luckily I quickly realized that a) I had no idea how to get that across in French and b) a comment like that might actually make everything more awkward. I managed to stammer a "non" and shake my violently to impress on them that I was definitely NOT preggers. Everyone seemed to accept this and moved on with the meeting. I was a little shaken, but I had a job to do, so I got over it.

Later that evening over dinner and drinks with my co-worker (who is 100% Quebecois) I casually brought up the situation to reassure myself that I wasn't in the wrong. I was going on and on about how awkward it was, how I couldn't believe she asked me that, etc. when I noticed a strange looked on his face. "You know", he said slowly. "It really wasn't a big deal. Nobody even noticed." I must not have looked convinced because he shrugged his shoulders and added "You don't have to be such an anglophone about it."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fleeting thoughts

Today I set a new record for my over traveled self: Three plane trips. That's three take offs and three landings. On any other day I may not have even remarked on this milestone, but the varying weather patterns between Fort McMurray (aka Fort McFreezing-my-ass-off) and Calgary made sure that these trips into the upper atmosphere would not go unnoticed. This morning I drove to the aiport in a snowstorm that did not permit me to exceed 30 kph in my rented Matrix. Yet somehow deciding to become airborne is a good idea! Of course in this situation they don't just take off and get it over with, they let you pile onto the plane (Dash-8, mind you) and sit on the runway while the snow heaps on faster than the attendants (who can barely grow facial hair) can wipe it off with that most technical of all airplane accessories - the broom. I'm surprised Swiffer hasn't cornered this market yet.

Regardless, I survive the morning excursions with barely an increase in my heart rate. I must be immune to any irrational plane phobias by now, right? Well, warm and safe on the ground in a snow storm is different than an entire flight from YYC to YMM with so much turbulence that the beer cart girl (sorry, flight attendent) couldn't make her rounds! Now that's a traumatizing flight experience.