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Guess who and where?

A bit o' the backcountry

A gang from our department went out for some backcountry yesterday, just behind the Cypress Mountain resort on the North shore. It was my first day on my new tele skis and only my second day ever on teles. I was soaked by the time we got up (from the arduous work of climbing steep slopes on skins) and soaked when we got down (from multiple face plants and other spectacular falls). Luckily the day was stunningly gorgeous and we were skiing in deep powder, including 60 fresh cms in the last 48 hours. What an amazing day!

A set of a dozen photos from the day are hosted on my friend's flickr site.

While returning my rental boots and beacon at MEC today, Rocco was casually perusing the snowshoes. A couple pairs were discounted due to being returned slightly used, and he spontaneously bought a pair of Denali Classics for about 30% off the regular price. We seem to be buying opposite gear to each other - I'm equipped with multiple pairs of skis and now he has snowshoes while I don't - but at least we're getting geared up. It makes having fun times in the snow a lot easier when most of what you need is hanging around begging to be used. Bring on the snowsports!


Duelling homemade images! See the LOMAH site for a very cool pic of Marko Polo. Below is a pic of Rocco I touched up with Photoshop CS. I have a few others around here somewhere...


Expressive pursuits

I am a hypocrite.

I've always maintained that it is essential to keep up some expressive pursuits, like painting, singing, dancing, McGyver-ing or throwing pots while the rest of your life rushes around holding down a job, feeding kids or cats, buying a fresh bottle of ketchup, etc. While advising this to others, I've managed to ignore my own advice and let my more creative interests fall by the wayside. Ironically, I actually stopped dancing halfway through my dance degree. Working on that degree did change my relationship with dancing, and dance and I are slowly resolving our differences, but I didn't replace dance with any other artistic practice in the interim.

Since moving to Vancouver I've checked out the various dance studios and vowed at the beginning of every semester to attend at least one class a week in whatever dance form appealed to me. It didn't happen. In the past I've made stained glass designs but since leaving LOMAH I haven't lived in a city where space isn't a premium. At the rate I can afford, there just isn't space where I live to have a small glass studio. Essentially, I've moved through many different options and levels of intention, and I have yet to establish a regular expressive outlet. But that all changed last night!

I joined a community choir at my local community centre. Kind of a ragtag group of young to old, male and female (though women predominate), and a variety of musical ability, the choir sings a variety of styles and tempos. It's been over two years since I last sang in a choir and I've been sorely missing it in my life. Now I have something fun and calming to look forward to every Tuesday night, and it's just around the corner from my place. Last night we talked about what music we might do over the next couple of months and the selection looks varied and great; among other things we're going to be singing the King's Singers' You Are The New Day, which was sung at my sister's wedding last year.

I'm also hoping to attend a dance class at least once a week at the Harbour Dance Centre, but that's another battle all together. What do you do? Or, for some of you with my kind of inertia, what would you like to do?

Edit: Actually, thinking about it a little more, I realise that cooking has become my expressive outlet. In recent years I've found great release in cooking and baking. After a terrible day at the libary, cubicle or desk, relief is found in planning a tasty meal, shopping carefully for the ingredients, washing the veggies, chopping, boiling, broiling, spicing, and plating food. This can take hours, even when I'm painfully hungry, but when it's done the day has been washed away and my sanity (such as it is) is again intact. It's a very creative process for me and I find it calming. The mandatory glass of red wine that must be sipped while cooking helps a bit too!


Testing, testing, 1 2 3

Gene 'increases Alzheimer's risk'

People born with a particular gene may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life, according to researchers.

Canadian and US scientists linked the illness with the SORL1 gene.

The gene produces a protein that may play a role in getting rid of the build-up of chemicals that can damage the brain.

The study, in Nature Genetics, suggested people with Alzheimer's have less of this protein in their blood.

The story being run by the BBC announces that a gene has finally been linked to Alzheimer's, which offers the potential for pre-testing to identify people who may develop the disease. Knowing in advance that you will likely develop Alzheimer's would give you the opportunity to prepare for the eventuality by arranging care, letting family and friends know what to expect, making some essential decisions earlier rather than later in life, etc. On the flip side, knowing what future awaits you could bring on dark thoughts of suicide, risk-taking behaviour, or resentment of those people around you who don't carry the Alzheimer's gene.

I have strong suspicions about my capacity for long and short term memory. No, I don't believe I have early onset Alzheimer's, but I really have a lot of trouble remembering facts, figures, details, etc. I used to harass my mom all the time about her dreadful memory, but it's obviously been passed on to me.

So, this new announcement raises the question, do I want to know if I am a prime candidate for Alzheimer's? Would you get yourself checked? Factors like having a family member who has Alzheimer's might sway your decision one way or the other, or if you have children you may want to know because planning for the future gets even more complicated. Additionally, to those of you with sprogs (kids), would you have a child tested for the gene, or for other genes that describe other diseases? For now let's not touch the subject of in utero testing and all the baggage that question brings with it, so let's just say it has been suggested that either you or your child be tested for the Alzheime's gene. How do you feel? What questions do you have? Do you get it done?


More money spent

And more time spent blogging! I have to mention two more purchases made since returning to Canada. I didn't spend the amount I expected to while in Ireland, so when we got home I made a few strategic purchases. The mattress was one, but here's another. The North Face Apex Bionic jacket. Two justifications for the purchase:
  1. I haven't had a proper jacket in years and years and it is damn cold around these parts lately so I need one
  2. I finangled $30 bucks off since another store two doors up had the same jacket (different colour, different size) for thirty bucks cheaper. You should always ask.
  3. What an awesome colour!
Ok, that was three reasons, but still, I *love* my new jacket! The last purchase that I feel the need to tell you about is for women only. Men, avert your eyes.

I have never been a supporter of Calvin Klein or his products. He builds things to fit fantasy women then charges absurd prices to make the common people feel excluded, all while continuing widely condemned production practices. But... I was in The Bay yesterday and found this neato thing, CK have packaged some bras and undies in small plastic ziplock bags so it feels like you're buying underwear from a vending machine. Call me a packaging whore, but I bought a bra. And it fits. And many underfed, underpaid, poorly treated workers in a developing nation got a few pennies for my weakness. I suck, but I look good in a t-shirt!

Best holiday shot so far and GREAT NEWS

Rocco's sister gave me a finger elephant. She was very surprised at how much this little gift rang my chimes! We have plenty of other shots from our trip, but so far this one is the best, and perhaps the most unexpected.

But what's the GREAT news? Besides receiving a finger elephant for christmas (who could ask for anything more?), we splurged a bit to start the new year off on the right side of the bed. We bought a mattress! Goodbye student futon days! Sleep Country Canada delivered our very own Body Contour Bliss this morning which means that tonight's sleep should be life changing, or at least life enhancing. Sitting on top of the frame that used to hold the futon mattress, the Body Contour Bliss comes up to my waist! I need to shop this afternoon for new deep pocket sheets and a small step ladder. I'm supposed to go for a run today, but it's going to take a supreme effort to not curl up for an extended nap to try out the new bed. Oh, it just started raining. Now I really need extra motivation to go run!


Out blogged!

Well shackle me timbers, I've been out blogged by the best and the rest of 'em. Rocco and I travelled over the holidays, making blogging difficult due to restricted internet access, and now there's so much to write about that I haven't a clue where to start! How about I get the gist of the trip out there quickly, then resume regular blogging every few days? Sounds like a plan to me.

The trip:
Vancouver to Dublin via Heathrow on Dec. 15th for me. No problems on either flight and my plane for the long leg was fresh out of the box with fancy new interactive A/V features. Best flight ever. Cousins picked me up in Dublin but we had car trouble on the way to their flat, much hilarity ensued (on my part; they were rather more concerned and angry). One night in Dublin, to Cork for three nights with my aunt, uncle and another cousin. To Waterford for three nights with (you guessed it) another aunt, uncle and a cousin. Aside: I got conned into attending a full Catholic mass while in Waterford - the first time in about 15 years! On to Carlow to meet Rocco and stay with his family. Four nights there including the big C. A great time was had by all, too much food and drink, a rowdy game of Trivial Pursuit, one brother lit on fire, and a spoil-me-silly luxury bathrobe in chocolate brown received. From Carlow to Limerick for a night with friends and more family members; a night in Cork; a night in Waterford; finally back to Dublin for 2 nights spent with friends. New Year's Eve wasn't supposed to be a late one but 3am found Rocco and me spilling in the front door with only hours to pack, sleep, and taxi to the airport for our 9am flight to Heathrow, then on to Vancouver.

The recovery:
We are now happily detoxing and enjoying our new kitchen installed by the best landlords ever while we were away. They surprised us with a new fridge as well! Sophie seemed very content with her temporary accommodation at Miranda's and entertained us by running through every one of her regular routines within 20minutes of arriving home, e.g. I used to jump up here, and my favourite toy is this one, and my water bowl is here, and I like to hide in here, and I try to squeeze through here, etc. There was a promise of dog-like jumping tricks from Miranda and her mate, but we haven't seen anything of the sort.

The plan:
Rocco is back at work and planning to visit Toronto in February. I'm back to studying, preparing for comprehensive exams in late March. Hopefully some fun will be had between now and then, but I should mostly keep my head down and focus. We do have some reservations made for Dine Out Vancouver so there are things to look forward to. Some ski days have also been discussed, and hopefully we'll fit in a few days of snowshoeing as well.

Happy 2007 everyone!