Wednesday, April 25, 2007

boston, part deux

After a very early starting and busy day one in Boston, we allowed ourselves a bit of a sleep in (9:30!) while making sure we still hit up the free continental breakfast. The one free meal of the day is a pretty important one when you are traveling on a budget.

The it was back to Boston Common to walk the Freedom! Trail! It is very full of freedom, the Freedom Trail. Also, it is painted with a big red line, so the tourists don't accidentally make a wrong turn and find themselves on the slavery trail. Handy.

Here we are at the beginning of the trail, each representing a piece of freedom.



And Jeff, the most pious of all, representing Religion:

Plenty of things to see on the trail, but one of the best had to be the birthplace of the tastiest bun ever, the Pakerhouse Roll (now unavailable in Stoon *pout*)
One of Boston's most famous historical figures is Paul Revere. He's essentially the Laura Secord of the States, but clearly not as important or cool as I don't see him with his own line of delicious chocolate products. Rach and I stopped to reenact his famous "midnight ride."
The trail to freedom ends at the Bunker Hill Monument. Freedom, it would appear, is a big phallic symbol on a hill. We (I) thought it would be fun to try and get a group picture for . Turns out we're not quite ready to be "famous" for our jumping skills (or lack thereof.)

After getting our fill of freedom, we headed out to Harvard to wander around the campus. We looked so natural in that environment that several different people came up to ask us information or directions. That's right - WE PASSED FOR HARVARD STUDENTS. Clearly you can see why,

After Harvard, we headed back downtown to try and secure some kind of tickets since we needed to occupy ourselves until midnight. We wound up with tickets to "Shear Madness" a bizarre murder mystery that is the worlds longest running non-musical play. It was no Blue Man Group, but I can think of worse ways to spend an evening.

After the play we went to Cheers! for supper and a beer. Turns out we accidentally missed the replica Cheers! while walking the freedom trail thinking it was a tourist trap/trick and instead visited the bar that was the inspiration for Cheers! We even watched the end of a Boston RedSox baseball to complete the official Boston pub experience. Since we were traveling on a budget, I had Jeff take my picture with my Cheers! beer mug as opposed to actually buying it. I'm crafty that way.
After Cheers! and trying to find a gas station in downtown Boston, it was finally time to go pick Erica up from the airport. It would of course be my luck that the one weekend I go to Boston, she would be busy gallivanting around the Galiano islands in BC. Her flight finally arrived just before 1am. I hadn't seen Erica since I left Japan in 2003, and if was fantastic to finally get to see her again after all this time, even though our visit was brief. We did meet up for lunch before we left town and hopefully we'll be able to arrange a longer visit this summer so I can bask in the awesomeness that is Erica for a little longer.

Thanks Boston!

you want stress?

Dear coworker:

I am writing to inform you, that while previously I had doubts about your professional capabilities, I no longer hold any respect for you as a professional. Someone who cannot be trusted with a dainty tray and some fruit certainly can not be trusted with forming the minds of the next generation.

Mme Chelle

After school I received this email from a coworker who had already proved herself ridiculously unreliable, prompting me to write the above reply.

I need your help. Would you be able to help me tomorrow at lunch? I bought some snacks for our multi-school department meeting and they need to be organised. I'm all alone - [two other teachers] can't help me. I'm really stressed!

Woman, if I were you I would stay away from me. After this, you have NO idea what you're getting yourself into next time you ask me how it's going...

Monday, April 16, 2007

do you? do you really?

My human rights group/Gay Straight Alliance is holding a Day of Silence on Wednesday. This is a national movement that will be occurring on Wednesday in High Schools across Canada.

The students, around 20 in total, have been pre-identfied to their teachers and will also be wearing lanyards so they will be easily identified. These are awesome kids. Most are top students and are actively involved in other extra-curricular activities. I don't think any are struggling academically. On Wednesday, they will also be carrying around cards that say the following:

Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies in schools. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?

There are a few exceptions to the silence. Students with pre-scheduled presentations may not use the Day of Silence as an excuse to not participate. If they need to ask a school related question that can't wait to a teacher, they may.

So you can imagine my surprise when a teacher came to see me today to double check that students had to still talk to teachers. I answered that if absolutely necessary of course they could, but the idea was for them to not talk between the hours of 8:30 until 3:15 when as a GSA we would officially break the silence and debrief about our day. The teacher continued, unsatisfied with my answer. I need to be able to ask those students questions. Do you? Really? Everyday, in your class, you ask EVERY SINGLE STUDENT a question? You evaluate them on their response? There is NO WAY you can go 1 HOUR without talking to those students? In your classes of 30 students, those 2 or 3 must be called upon?

Really? Then I would like you to also stop taking your basketball team to tournaments. They also NEEDED to be in my class for that hour you made them miss. Jerk.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

road trip!

(All photos courtesy of Jeff since I was too lazy to take my own camera. Thanks Jeff!)

Wednesday night as I was getting ready to leave, Rach sent me a text to bring my passport "just in case." That just in case turned out to be a little plan Rach had been hatching for who knows how long - spinning it, twisting it, and then presenting it just right to Jeff and I. She certainly knows how to work us both. The plan? Boston! I certainly didn't see that coming (I was thinking she would say NY or Toronto). Tired from all the work we had all been doing, Friday was a much deserved sleep in day and we didn't really firm up what our tentative plans would be until late afternoon. Jeff was in it for the Blue Man group, I was in if we could do it VERY cheap, and Rach? well she just likes to hang out with both of us. Since it was already late, we decided to run errands Friday and leave early Saturday morning so as to save on a hotel room.

Saturday morning we made it out of the house running only 10 minutes behind out proposed schedule. Jeff had preprogrammed his new GPS the previous evening and we followed it the entire way. It certainly used a more "creative" route than we probably would have taken ourselves, but then end result was our planned hotel in Boston. Which looked much much nicer on the internet...

So it wasn't the prettiest hotel in Boston, but it certainly got the job done AND served up a good continental breakfast. Waffles! Who would have guessed?

After checking in, we headed off to the Museum of Science. Considering the number of big name universities in Boston, I was sort of expecting something fabulous. I mean, a city can't very well be the home to MIT and then have a crappy science centre... It was pretty average though. I remember the one in Ottawa or Toronto being much better, but that could have been because I was young and impressionable the last time I was there...

Obviously Rach has more practice at this, check out that perfect hand placement!

After running around the museum taking funny pictures, we went to a show at the Planetarium called "Far far away." Jeff really wanted to go since it was all about the Star Wars galaxy. I wasn't super keen, but I do love a good planetarium regardless of whether what I'm looking at is real or not. The show was a total bust. It was a movie, projected on both sides of the planetarium, that talked about the earth's various stages and how those stages could be compared to Star Wars planets. LAME! Every once in awhile they would randomly show stars on the planetarium, as if this justified putting the show in there as opposed to on a white screen in a corner somewhere. I took this opportunity to have a little nap in the comfy chairs they provide for you so you don't have to strain your neck looking up.

Well rested after the show, we took a DUCK tour of the city. This was money well spent since I knew NOTHING about Boston, and our guide seemed pretty well informed. He was rather entertaining, and Canadian. At first we sorta though the Canadian bit was just a gimmick, but then he was saying "aboot" all over the place and was very excited about us being from Saskatchewan. He actually said aboot! I thought just Newfoundlanders did that! The DUCKs themselves are these nifty army vehicles that drive on land and then turn into a boat on the water.

After the tour we made our way for dinner (not supper, apparently they don't call it that in Boston) somewhere called the Rock Bottom Grill. We had quite a bit of time to spend there before our show started, so when Rach finally caved and made us order desert, our waitress seemed very pleased and assured us it was the greatest thing ever. Really? I take my desert very seriously as you all know. She, however, was not lying. Check this thing out! So much icing, so much caramel, so much everything in fact!

Lastly we headed off to the Blue Man Group show. It was even better than I was expecting. We laughed pretty much solid for their entire show. I was also pretty entertained at what a possible "audition" might look/sound like. Are you constantly annoying people because you insist on playing percussion with any available "instrument" on any available surface? Can you catch a ridiculous amount of marshmallows in your mouth with physics defying precision? Can you then regurgitate those marshmallows into "art"? Can you spit paint creatively? Do you really like the colour blue? Lastly, do you enjoy making messes? Yes? Hired! I would definitely go see these guys again in a second.

All in all it was an excellent start to our whirlwind Boston tour.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

a day of firsts

Finally Easter holidays are here. For a the break, I am out in Montreal visiting Rachel and Jeff. Yes, I am aware that I will be moving here in two long months, but they will be back home at the time. So to factor in the "visiting" part, here I am.

My first full day in Montreal encompassed some pretty important life firsts.

1. My very first Krispy Kream doughnut. I was very skeptical about this. I mean, what could really be THAT great about a doughnut. So we watch the doughnuts being made for 30 seconds. Then Rachel turns around and says "here's our sample!" I was expecting a small piece of a doughnut on a toothpick. THEY GIVE YOU A WHOLE DOUGHNUT. A whole doughnut people. They are so confident that their doughnuts are warm, iced, and delicious and that you will want more, they give you an entire free doughnut every time you come in the store. Oh they are right. We did briefly debate just leaving after our free doughnut, but then the cream filled chocolate was just too much to resist. That not quite boston cream was the best doughnut I've ever eaten.

2. My first Guitar Hero experience. I had pretty much been ignoring all the guitar hero hype. I don't have a system that will play it anyway. Too bad it meets pretty much all my qualifications for a good game. Do you need to be able to manoeuvre in 3-D? No. Is it played to music? Yes. Do you need to tap to the music? Yes. Are there different colours to be played? Yes. Seriously, this is DDR for the lazy. (And the potentially more hand-eye coordinated than myself.) Awesome.

3. The first time I have been made fun of by a Costco employee. Rach and Jeff needed some groceries, and Jeff has a certain fondness for Costco pre-made meals. We also needed a GPS. While waiting for them to finish the shopping, I headed over to the books. They sell a whole series of enrichment books for elementary school kids for French (and math). These look awesome for a lost and struggling core-french teaching me. So I pick out a few in the gr 3 to 6 level. As we get up to the till the cashier must have noticed Jeff and I were speaking English since he greets us in English. Then he looks down at my only purchase, the 4 French books, and says "Well I guess it's never to late to learn!"

Monday, April 02, 2007

juno festivus

Oh Juno weekend, how you turned my little city upside down for about 48 hours. You made so many of us very very happy indeed!

In all honesty, I really didn't want too much to do with the actual Junos themselves since I rarely watch them and tickets were astronomical prices. To pay close to $200 for something I typically ignore seemed totally bonkers. I stand by my decision.

Junofest, on the other hand, was SO worth it. True, there were way cooler people who could have agreed to play shows (Tegan and Sara, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Joel Plaskett, Sarah Harmer, Trag, and cool French bands where were you guys?!? Especially you Sarah, I know you were in town!) I digress.

Friday evening saw me at the Pat. Oh dear. This in itself is a sign of my love for Wide Mouth Mason. We arrived promptly at 10, and avoided massive lineups by mere minutes. A large-ish amount of beverages were consumed to make being at the Pat for 3 hours listening to terrible music bearable. However, it was all worth it. I wound up front row for pretty much the entire show and - terrible sound system excluded - wasn't disappointed. I realised about 15 minutes in that I have been standing in that exact same spot at WMM concerts for 10 years now. They played most of my old favourites.

Saturday evening we went to Louis'. We arrived early as I would have killed my concert going companion if we would have not gotten in. The quality of the evening was WAY better than the previous evening. I enjoyed all the groups, except the first. Enjoyment aside, I was really there to see David Usher. He was amazing. The small venue, the sound quality, I was pretty much bursting with happiness the entire show. So much love for Dave. He even played St. Lawrence River for the last song of his encore which pretty much proves he loves me too.

So thanks for bringing Dave to town Junos!