Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

First Aid during a pandemic

So as a requirement of my coaching insurance, I have to keep my first aid current.  That was a bit of a problem when it expired in March *sigh* but now that we’re in Phase 3, it’s an option again.  I did “blended” learning which means all the theory was online.  For me this was *awesome* as it took a fraction the time doing it in class would’ve ;).   Might not have been as useful for someone new to it or who doesn’t learn well through reading (there were videos too but I didn’t have the patience for that).  But for me it meant as fast as I could read and pass the tests I was done.  No listening to other people’s endless questions - which is an act of patience sometimes, let’s be honest.

Then the practical in class was only half a day.  A couple things we couldn’t do because they require a partner and it was strictly hands off due to covid, but credit to the woman instructing - she did a great job within the rules she had to follow.

The dummies have improved since I last did it - more pressure required for CPR and felt more real (well I’m sure it’s the same amount that was always required but the previous ones took a lot less to push down).  And what definitely wasn’t real but was a super learning aid was the feedback lights on the dummy’s shoulder that tracked speed and pressure.  So that was cool.

Sadly my dummy was horribly ill and required a throat and lung transplant before we could even start CPR.  Lol that made me laugh.  He was definitely not having a good day.

2 person CPR / AED was moderately entertaining as we all had to stay in our social distancing squares.  So the theory was while we each had a dummy, pretend we were working on the same one.  Some pair could *not* get that through their heads and it was a riot to watch (eg - you can’t both be doing chest compressions at the same time).  Fortunately I was paired with somebody intelligent so he and I got through it quickly w no issues.

The end exam was beyond painful as they can’t hand out booklets anymore, so the questions were put on the screen one at a time and read to us.  And then, any questions anybody missed were repeated at the end.  I don’t know how it was possible to miss them, but hey - this is the same group who couldn’t figure out how to coordinate using two dummies to simulate one.

Anyways - all in, it was a far less painful approach than it usually is and I’m free for the next 3 years :).  Win.

Cause learning Spanish wasn't hard enough ;)

So it's definitely an interesting time -- and not just cause it's 2020 ;)

If you’re following the adventure you’ll know that:
  • Chris returned to University starting in July
  • We sold our house in the middle of a pandemic
But really, that’s not nearly enough excitement to write home about ;)

So with Chris at school, we’re down to one reliable income and one flexible one.  And I have a funny feeling the economy is going to be doing some unfriendly things over the next couple years.   So instead of buying something cheaper and risk getting stuck w something we really don’t like for several years, my ever-amazing parents have very generously agreed to let us move in with them while C is in school.

This gives time to discover what the post-COVID world will look like; if I don’t have to commute anymore, it opens anywhere with viable internet as a possibility.  Logically, I know it’s the right thing to do.  Emotionally I really struggled with the idea.  But okay - it’s to lead to better things.  

And then I clued in…. If we’re living there, it’s prob the best shot I’ll ever have at being able to do my MBA.  Hmmmm. 

So back into researching mode.  The one I *really* wanted to do was the EMBA from McMaster / DeGroot.  I loved the curriculum, I liked the balance of in-class vs online, and the location is just around the corner.  BUT - it’s just shy of $100K.  Ummm no.   

I immediately eliminated any university that required a GMAT score and wouldn’t accept a MA as proof of competency at that level.  Especially for a degree that many people do years after graduation, the GMAT is a little ridiculous.  I was also really bitter that UofT wouldn’t accept a master’s from their own university instead of it.  Lol not that I could afford UofT anyways, but still.   AND, what I had liked about their program (namely that it’s either before or after work) is actually a detriment if I’m not in TO every day.  Hard no.

Shifted my focus to online.  The only one that seemed to be 100% online in Canada is Athabasca.  I’ve taken other courses from there, and talked to a bunch of MBA grads, who all spoke very positively about it.  BUT several things about their program didn’t appeal to me.  You have to do the whole thing with a single cohort — same courses in the same order.  The curriculum didn’t really appeal to me.  Lots of group work and “participation” marks.  There’s a mandatory residential component.  And - it’s still more than $50K (before the residential piece!).  Meh.

But wait — if a degree is truly online, it doesn’t have to be local.  Welcome world.   So more research.  There are a LOT of degrees online once you leave Canada.  So criteria required:
  • Credentials recognized in Canada (not doing this if I don’t get those little letters!)
  • Reasonable timeframe (I’ve seen a range from 1-5 years!)
  • Interesting and at least vaguely relevant curriculum
  • Decent local and international reputation
  • Not in its first five years
  • Price 
Well, let me tell you, that laundry list helped pare things down quickly.  The last three alone eliminated the entire US lol.

I did a lot of research and narrowed it down to Aston University (UK) and the Australian Institute of Business.  Both met all the list of requirements.   Similar timeframe (~2 years).  Aston had the plus of a very long and established reputation (with a physical school as well as online).  Their admissions person was amazing (whereas AIB’s was awful).  AIB has been around for 38 years so certainly not new as a business, but definitely new in terms of a school.  Doing some research it has an excellent reputation both in Australia and outside.  Okay.   Interestingly *both* schools were specifically targeting Canadian students and have brochures etc that target Canada specifically (it’s possible they have for lots of countries — but for AIB I got to see their “brochure library” and they had Australian, Canadian, and Global).  For AIB I was able to locate Canadian students who are also RBC’rs and connect with them (LinkedIn win!).   For Aston I could not, and they could not provide me with any current students to connect with due to privacy restrictions.  This was, at least partially, a deciding factor.  The other deciding factor is that I had slightly more interest in the AIB curriculum than the Aston one and AIB is the more affordable of the two (~$7k cheaper depending on exchange rates.  Not a huge difference given that they’re about $70k cheaper than Mac, but still more than a couple paycheques! ;)

So I messaged a few of the RBC people who are currently attending AIB and picked their brains about a wide range of topics (also - all were incredibly generous with their time and open in their responses).  The two biggest cautions were — it’s a greater time commitment than you expect, and classes will be at inconvenient hours.  Apparently they do keep Canadian students in mind, so they’re not usually in the middle of the night, but they’re not ideal timing either.   However, they are recorded.   Okay - I can deal with that.  I also reached out to a friend in Australia who kindly tagged some of her friends so I got a little more info that way as well which was super helpful.

So yeah - after all of that, I have applied and have been accepted to  AIB for my MBA.  Class starts the last week of Aug.

You know - the same week we move ;)

Studies show that people who have more birthdays live longer!

Happy birthday to me :)

Wasn’t sure how COVID bday would go, but still booked it off work - worst case I’d spend the day in my backyard w a book :)
I had never noticed this park before.  Enjoyed wandering around it.
It was stunning, and the only person in it was the gardener.

But instead, Chris and I went to Niagara Falls and did a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt :).  It was phenomenal weather and once we got over the eerieness, the lack of tourists was awesome!
The view from where we thought we were supposed to start

We had a bit of a false start with our hunt - we were decidedly in the wrong location - but once we sorted that out it was a fun way to wander around Niagara.

Where we were actually supposed to start!
We got *very* wet walking here, but it was >30 degrees, so almost pleasant
One of the stops was the sky wheel so we hopped on that for a spin lol - got an extended ride cause there was nobody there.

On the way home, stopped to pick up birthday cheesecake from the wonderful Laila (seriously - if you’re in Halton, you should try her creations!  Actual store coming soon :)

View from the Sky Wheel
Got home to find actual birthday cake and ice cream complements of my awesome parents :).  So yeah - all round excellent birthday.

I hadn't seen this view before either...  It was the last stop of the scavenger hunt.
Couldn’t do the family dinner thing with social distancing restrictions still in place; was more disappointed by that than I would’ve expected, but still a great day with my husband and tons of cake!   

And I didn’t sign into work once :)


Not a bad way to spend a summer evening...

Last night I was teaching Kennedy on Callie and they did an awesome job.  Great rhythm, jumping grown-up fences in an incredibly uphill canter and then fun playing in the field...

So it was all kinds of fun to watch and I was kinda looking forward to playing myself (I’m riding Cal once a week for now - helping with fitness and fine tuning).  Now let’s be clear - I’m not even remotely fit.  I acknowledge this in theory but in reality I struggle with it ;)

Yesterday was the first day the field was open so I headed out there today - in jump tack rather than dressage just in case Cal wanted to play.  Was pleased I didn’t have to adjust the stirrups until I realized that while K and I ride w the same dressage length, this was her XC length that I “didn’t have to adjust” - but for me it was flat-in-jump-tack length.  Lol - I would’ve had to go up 3-4 holes for XC.

But we won’t be doing that anytime soon cause omg am I ever unfit!  I made all of one round of the field in a strong canter in 2-pt and less than that in trot.  Ugh.  Methinks next wk will be fitness building for me.  Sadly it is still progress over the first ride a few weeks ago ;). That was just embarrassing.

Only had one serious discussion w Cal, and that was when I insisted that she canter up the speedbump (it can’t even be called a hill...  2-stride slope maybe?) anyways canter up this, properly connected, AND with her shoulders directly in front of her hindquarters.  OMG the epitome of unreasonable requests let me tell you.  The appropriate authorities have been informed.  Lol she stopped, let out the biggest cow-kick she could w no forward momentum whatsoever (which in the grand scheme of Callie’s capabilities is negligible), then begrudgingly continued on her way.  Was quite the traditional mare f-u.   Other than that though, not much.  She was more tired than I expected after her superstar performance last night, but fair enough.  I’m not particularly fit so just as well she didn’t need a long ride ;). And definitely had enough of the MONSTER bugs by the end - to be fair, she wasn’t exaggerating and I was done with them too!   She was at least sensible enough to realize I was helping her when using the dressage whip to flick them away from her ears and face ;).  That could’ve ended poorly but Cal’s sense of self-preservation is usually pretty good; her person made sure she had real life experience as a youngster which definitely helped form a grownup horse with a brain.

So yeah - short ride, but fun.  I was pretty horrified by my lack of fitness (previous rides have all been in dr tack - also highlighted some fitness issues, but nowhere near as dramatically).  I also learned I cannot be trusted in any field w XC jumps ;).  Just too tempting, even if they’re so tiny they’re buried in hay *g*.  It’s just been far too long...

Working from... a random bench outside Service Ontario?

So I ventured to TO last week, primarily to get my work laptop - which was successful.  However, in order to set it up to connect to the network remotely, I need to be connected to the network.  Hmmmm - anybody else see a problem with this situation? 

So now I’m sitting on a bench outside the local RBC - I could’ve theoretically gone in but A) the weather’s nice, B) I’d prob need a mask, C) there was a long line I didn’t see the need to wait in, nor was I inclined to cut in front of all those people, and D) why would I?  There’s literally zero advantage to going inside.  

Plus side - my computer connected right away.  Down side, it went “oh my god you haven’t done updates in months!” And then promptly shut back down.  It’s on its third reboot as I type this.

So my strategically located bench is next door to a Service Ontario.  I’ve been watching the whole time as the Service Ontario lady greets people.  It appears her *entire* job is to tell them they have to come back at 8:45 the next morning to get a ticket that will tell them what time their appointment is and that all of today’s appointments are already taken (it’s about 10:30 as I’m writing this).  People are being amazingly respectful of this, even by Canadian standards, but I can’t help but feel this process could be automated.  Have the process clearly outlined on the website (ideally w the ability to get a ticket there)...   A sign on the door for people who don’t check the website.  And person could be serving actual people to get more through... Alternately, she could have tickets for tomorrow so at least these people could secure a time for the next day.  But no.  

Okay so just went through the entire process documented on the website to set up my computer.  Completely unnecessary as I had all that info (RSA token etc already on my phone).  HUGE pita and no instructions on how to use said access - which was the whole point.  Fail.  I basically did some random poking around, located an old VPN sign on and that seems to work?  Lol okay - really wish they’d just skipped right to that step.  So now going away from the RBC network (this bench was really not meant to be sat on for hours at a time) and see if it works for real....

Update - home and connected!  Win!  That whole kerfuffle (I definitely had to look up how to spell that!) could’ve been shortened to a 5 min activity.  Sadly the RBC network access prob was needed so the bench would still have been involved, but my day would’ve been much more productive overall.   Ah well - a good day to darken my tan :)

On the move again...

Those of you who’ve been around the blog for a few years or who actually know me in real life, may be familiar with the concept that I rarely do things in half measures.  So when you combine that with 2020…. Well let the games begin :)

All that’s about to come transpired because neither Chris nor I were happy in our current jobs.  For me to progress my career much farther, it’s looking like an MBA would be a really good idea.  And Chris didn’t want to progress his career so much as change it entirely.

Thinking through the options for Chris, he landed on teacher’s college.  He was really enjoying teaching at Sheridan, however there was no opportunity there for FT or consistent hours.   So while I am - if not happy, at least not miserable in my current role, Chris hates his with a passion.  MBA might help further my career but it’s not an immediate catalyst for dramatic change.  Whereas a teaching degree/certificate/? (I’m not entirely sure what he graduates with since it’s not a BEd - but the power to teach at HS level tech) definitely makes and instant and complete career change for Chris.  It is also imminently more affordable than an MBA.  He wins.  

So we do some research, it looks like there is a demand for tech teachers, so we apply and are not surprised when C is accepted (he was way overqualified AND had already been teaching at Sheridan).   Woohoo!  Win.  His school started first week of July — all online due to COVID, but at least in progress.

Okay but that means that C is now working part-time hours because he’s in school full time.  And, well, in reality I can’t carry the mortgage on my salary alone.  So we can either slide into debt (which we had accepted — essentially the cost of a mid-range car by the time all is said and done) or we sell the house.   I love the house and will be sad to see it go, but C really does not.  And we’d both like to live in a more rural environment.  So okay.  List house.  In a pandemic.  That’s fun.

We actually listed the day before the world shut down.  And, obviously, got nowhere.  So after a week or two we pulled the listing — there was just no point.  When things started to ease up a little, we listed again.  

Had to of course sign all the COVID forms “haven’t been out of the country” etc etc.  And, anybody who comes to see the house also has to sign on.  No open houses, only showings.  Everybody has to wear masks.  They can’t touch anything so make sure all doors are open (you’re supposed to anyways but more extreme now).  Etc etc.   And of course, I was working at home during all this so every showing the dogs and I had to get out.

Then we got an offer that had a home inspection condition.  Okay.  We’re cleaning up the basement so the home inspector can get where we need to and…. Finds minor evidence of a leak.  Frig.  One that’s out of range of C’s tools to fix (ie - need to chip up concrete).   Classic.  So okay, their person isn’t coming till Tuesday, get somebody non Monday to fix.   Done.

Home inspection goes well, except he finds *another* leak.  Wtf?!?!  One that has never leaked the whole time we’ve been there.   Call plumber back — he looks at it and is not touching it.  Not a good sign.  All signs point to very costly and horrifying repairs.   Our realtor finds a different plumber who will come out.  He takes a look, makes a minor tweak, problem solved. ?!?!?  Yeah I still don’t quite believe it, but I’m pretty thrilled.  We’ve had a paper towel under it since then and not a single drop has passed soooo…. Win :)

And with that, the house is sold.  Now we just have to pack up and move by the end of Aug.  No problem.

Road trip?

So as you may know, I've recently readopted stabbing things as a hobby.  I'm finding it remarkably therapeutic :).   And a couple weeks ago I got linked into a FB group doing a "stitch along" that releases weekly.   It's not cross-stitch, and I wasn't sure if it was something I'd love or hate...  But I was toying with the idea of joining in -- only 27 weeks late ;). And then I saw one done in a colour scheme that I *loved*.   Hmmm suddenly want to join.

Well of course Michael's doesn't carry this brand of thread.  Amazon does, but it's got an insanely long wait time.  Oh well, order it and continue my search.   Lots of places in the States have it.  But apparently only one in Canada.  Down side -- it's in London.  Plus side -- it's in London.   Lol as in London is about 1.5h drive from here -- so it sucks for a $5 purchase but is way better than Vancouver would be!   They do have online ordering, but shipping was going to be 3x the cost of the product and weeks to deliver.

So I check to see if I can cancel my Amazon order.  Nope - shipped.   Still weeks out, but shipped.  And then I looked closer -- I had selected the wrong weight.  Not a thing with thread I'm used to, but this is a company that mostly sells to a different market -- including crochet. Yeah - my "thread", if or when it arrives, is going to be closer to the size of wool.   Fail.   Fortunately Amazon has an excellent return policy ;)

Wake up this morning and was just kinda thinking through what I wanted to do today; Chris was already at work, so I decide I'm going to London to get the thread I want.  Why not?  lol.  Look on their website -- you have to book an appointment?!?!   Thanks COVID.  And the only remaining times are 10:45 or 4:00.   Well 4:00 sucks.  10:45....  hmmm mad googling to see if I can make it by then (it was about 8:45 by this point).   Yes, if I leave in the next 15 mins.  lol np.   Text Mum to see if she wants to road trip to a craft store on zero notice (as in, we have to leave now) and she's in -- and even offered to drive!

So yes -- all of this to say I drove 3h today to pick up thread.  I am both highly amused and horribly saddened by this realization.

Worth the drive to London

A ghost city

So it’s 9:30 am on a Monday and I’m in downtown Toronto for the first time since March.  I’m here because we were assigned one day which we could come get anything we left at the office before shut down, since it will likely be a long while before we’re back.  And, well, I left my computer.  lol while Citrix is awesome for occasional usage it’s really not holding up to full time work.

So okay - the first challenge was how to get here.  Trains are only running once an hour and I was really not sure I wanted to attempt public transit so I checked the traffic before leaving...  35 minutes?!?!  That’s like middle of the night drive time.  Driving it is...

Now I hate driving in the downtown core so fully planned to park at one end and walk (it is 30 deg and sunny out :).  The hwy moved the whole way to the exit ramp.  Seriously - free range speed until the Gardner and then about 80 till my exit.  Exit for Spadina was packed and it was stop and go from there to Front st.  But Front was clear?!?!  Of cars AND pedestrians - it was really eerie.   Had half a garage floor to myself...   Walking the rest of the way to work I passed maybe 4 people?!?   To put in perspective, on a normal day at this time there would be hundreds.  Even right outside Union was deserted.   

There would usually be bumper to bumper cars and
a couple hundred people in this photo

Indoors masks are required, outside seemed to be about 50/50 usage, and the “hanging around the neck for when I go inside” style was being rocked by a good portion of the population (myself included).  To be fair - there were so few people out, social distancing was easy.  I saw more people walking the dogs this am.

I did learn the new life skill of how to tie the mask so it sits snugly when on but hangs loosely when dropped down.  Win.  

In the office again - just deserted.  Where I’m used to hundreds of people and having to fight to get anywhere was an easy stroll.   The elevators had signs for 4 people max - which does not enforce social distancing at all, but was irrelevant as I was the only one there.
Prime time on a Monday and not a soul to be seen

I had a brief moment of concern that my badge wouldn’t work - both cause it’s day one of the “you can go get your stuff” trial AND because my badge had broken and I still had a temp.   No idea if they’d expire!  It seems not...

I did hear one horn honk - so some city people are clearly still out an about ;).  But mostly it’s eerily deserted.

And now for my return commute...

Lol edited to add - return commute was harder than expected - doors to parking lot were locked so I had to find a different entrance...

Still no problem - I had foreseen this and taken a pic of my area - E1.  Great right?  Except I went to the second entrance I know and it was also locked.  Asked random stranger and got directed to a third entrance that worked!  Woohoo!  Except I walked all around E1 with no car :(.  Finally decided to go ask parking attendant (thankfully still there!) and told him I parked next to the stairs and where the stairs let me out; he told me it was actually an attached garage (ironically I’d wandered into the RBC parking?!?) - I had to go down to E3, cross a barrier, and then I’d be at my E1...  Lol so down 2 flights of stairs to get to level 1.  Not sure how that worked but his directions were perfect and my car was right where it should be.