Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hometown Tourist

I have internet again! I confess...I have had internet back for about a week now and have just been neglecting the blog. For no particular reason other than just not feeling it.

Attempting to Ice Fish
I have been quite the little Hay River tourist these past two weeks! GC was visiting so we did a whole bunch of fun Northern things that I don't normally do and that you can't do back home. We went Ice Fishing and Dog Sledding and Aurora Hunting and snowshoeing and skiing.  It was really really cold while he was here so we didn't get to ski as much as we would have liked but we still managed to get out to the ski club a few times. All of the above were awesome and worth the money and I would definitely do it all again. If you ask anyone in Hay River about dog sledding or ice fishing everyone will point you in the same direction, and for good reason.  Both guys are really great and know everything there is to know about their respective industries / line of work.

We didn't get to drive the dog sled, we just sat in it and got a 8km or so ride. Still really cool to see how much work goes into getting the dogs harnessed up and ready to pull the sled, and how well trained the dogs are.

The ice fishing hut wasn't out on the ice but we got to see how commercial ice fishing works and we caught one Whitefish in the net.  We had a hole drilled into the ice for us outside of a cabin where we ate dinner (fresh fish and bannock) but it was so cold that the hole kept freezing over and too cold to stand outside with the line for the hour or so it could take to catch a fish.

Frozen Eyelashes Mid-Snowshoe
The Northern lights were really bright this weekend because of a solar flare but every time we went out to see them there was nothing, or only very very faint wisps of them that were not quite worth standing out side for.  One night though, Stacey texted me and said the lights were super bright and dancing above her apartment and so we hoped in the car and drove over to see them.  There were the brightest I've seen to far but still not nearly as bright as I know they can be.  We missed the majority of the show unfortunately, but it's still better than nothing!

The ski club hosted a 'Get Active NWT' snowshoeing event followed by warm moose stew and bannock.  We went out despite the freezing cold temps and ended up snowshoeing on the ski trails across the river which I had never been on before.  We also went out for a night ski one night but the trails weren't groomed and weren't as well lit as I had thought they would be.  There was also about 4- 6 inches of fresh powder on the trails which isn't ideal for skate skiing. It was cold too, and a really tough ski since I'm not a great skier and I was barely moving the whole time.  It was actually pretty creepy...I kept thinking I was hearing things and about to get eaten by a pack of hungry wolves or a lynx - I was following GC's tracks who was much much faster than I was. Obviously it was all in my head, but I'm not in a hurry to go out for another solo night ski anytime soon.

It's crazy how many fun things there are to do in your own town or in a nearby city.  I know I'm still relatively new here and so I am technically still a 'tourist' but the same is true for home.  There is so much going on in Toronto that I've never tried or places I've never been. I've never been to a TFC game for example.  I'm always in such a hurry to leave the city to explore a new far away and exciting city when in reality, it would be very easy to take a 'staycation' and spend an entire week or two exploring home and doing things I've never done before and going places I have yet to experience.

I have internet back but my satellite is now gone.  I have a feeling that was on purpose since it's not technically included either.  It was all a little grey when I discussed rent and what was included and not included before I moved in here.  I've heard nothing but bad things about how sketch my landlord is and how often she rips people off so I really don't want to get on her bad side.  I've decided to give myself 1 month (February) without the TV to see how I do.  I'm hoping that it encourages me to be more active since I won't have anything else to do.  It's also forcing me to read and knit more, both of which I've been meaning to do anyways.  TV has a tendency to just suck you in, even though there is nothing worth watching on, you just can't turn away.   It helps that Stacey has a ton of movies and shows on an external hard drive that I can watch.  I've already watched the first season of Californication and we're 5 episodes into the first season of Friday Night Lights.  I have a feeling I won't be missing the TV at all.  I will splurge and pay for satellite this summer during the Olympics though.  That is a must watch and worth the cost of a month or two of satellite.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I seem to have lost internet access in my apartment and since it's not technically included in my lease I've been trying to sneakily convince someone to fix it without asking my landlord.  This is not a very effective way of obtaining internet.  The ladies at the front desk have no idea whats going on and seem to be ignoring me and my requests to have the modem reset.

Anyways, I'll probably be kind of missing in action for the next week or so while I get it resolved.  There is always the library but it's inconvenient to pack everything up and trudge down the street.  Aka I'm jus being lazy.

Undeniably Unlucky

I think I was living in denial about the unseasonably warm temperatures.  We were enjoying next to perfect winter conditions; cold enough to keep everything frozen, it was sunny and around -15 which was perfect for doing outside activities and also cold enough to use as an excuse for staying inside and wasting a day watching bad made for tv chick flicks on ‘Slice’ and “W Network”.  Well I definitely got a rude awakening this weekend when the temperatures finally dropped to typical Hay River winter ranges.  The norm for this time of year is around -30C before the wind chill and around -40C with the wind chill. I’m definitely not in Mississauga anymore. 

Sunday was the first really cold day, and I only ventured out of my apartment to walk the 100m to the pool and the library for a few hours. I seem to have lost internet connection in my apartment which is a huge bummer.  The wireless network still exists but every time I try to log on it says “connection timeout”.  I am planning on calling the office to get it fixed (the office is closed on weekends) but technically internet isn’t included in my rent and I don’t want them to deny me access so I’ve been waiting it out in hopes that a hotel guest complains and they straighten it out without my intervention.  It quit on Friday and it didn’t resolve itself yet so I think I will have to call the office tonight after work and just be oblivious to the fact that I shouldn’t actually be using the internet anyways.  The ladies at the desk probably won’t even know I’m not supposed to have access…or so I hope.   I guess frequenting the library to use the internet isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It’ll force me to leave my apartment more often and the hours are pretty decent.  Plus I’ll know all the cool stuff going on around town since it’s all advertised through the library. Although it is awfully inconvenient!  I’ve been using more data on my phone since I don’t have internet on my lap top and I really don’t want to be paying million dollar phone bills so I have to be careful.  It also means I won’t be able to post blogs whenever I want aka as often.

I mentioned before that I was borrowing a friend’s car for the next two weeks so that I have a vehicle while Geoff is here visiting.  I drove it out to the ski club on Saturday for a snowshoe / lunch date with Stacey and it was running perfectly.  I plugged it in Saturday night and was planning on driving it to work this morning.  I went out about 10 minutes before I was going to leave to start it and let it warm up but when I went back out to leave, I realized I had locked the keys in the car, with the car running…or so I thought.  I walked to work, borrowed a public health vehicle to pick up a spare set of keys from the vehicle owner and then got dropped off at the car to bring it to work.  Of course the car was no longer running and my ride had driving away already.  I hopped in the car and the car wouldn’t start and I couldn’t get the key out of the ignition.  It was stuck.  The radio would come on, but the car wouldn’t turn over.  I went into the office to ask if any of them had any advice for getting a car to start and they didn’t but my landlord said her son was coming by shortly and could maybe help.  In the meantime I’m already 30 minutes late for work so I call the office and Jordan comes to get me.  We ended up boosting the car and leaving it running all morning at work and I’m going to go pick it up this afternoon over lunch. There are several lessons of the day: 1) I am hopeless with cars, 2) cars don’t like -33C weather anymore than I do.  Actually I just glanced out my window and I’d say 80% of the vehicles in the parking lot are running right now.  I feel bad for the environment with all these cars running all day!  I also can’t help but think that if I was still at home and had my car running, with the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked, it would only last about 30 minutes before someone stole it.  With my luck this car will end up getting stolen. Sigh…I should never be allowed to own a vehicle, I have such bad luck with them.  Ok ok, I admit, my bad luck with cars is probably completely self-inflicted.

I managed to get back to work around the same time my first client was arriving for his appointment so just in the nick of time! A bit of a frazzled way to start a Monday morning but as always, it will all work out one way or another.  Better this happens now than on Wednesday evening when I’m due to pick up Geoff from the airport!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Birthday Briefs

Cupcake Cake made for the Birthday!
A co-worker had a birthday this week which meant multiple cakes in the office in addition to cheese cake one evening.  I have to admit, I never would have guessed that offices are as bad as they are for baked goods, sweets and generally unhealthy food.  Before Christmas we had potlucks and cookie exchanges and chocolates left by clients on our table every day.  After Christmas everyone is purging their cupboards at home only to fill the cupboards in the office with their left over unwanted, non-resolution conforming boxes of cookies and chocolates. After getting addicted to sweets all over again over the holidays, I have to admit that it’s been really tough to avoid these foods and more than once my will power has all but vanished in the presence of cake….and spinach dip…and maybe the occasional Quality Street chocolate.  Who am I kidding, I don’t really have any will power when it comes to food.  And today someone parked their truck and left it running all morning right beside the intake vent outside of our building so we’ve been inhaling diesel fumes all day.  They got so bad that the hospital told everyone to go for an early lunch while they tried to air out the building.  Early lunch means long lunch and the Public Health gals all ended up going to a local diner for burgers and fries, despite the fact that I had a lovely salmon and spinach salad with fresh veg and avocado packed in my lunch box that I’ve been salivating over all day.  I’ll eat it for dinner but I easily could have passed on the burger and eaten my packed lunch.
Autographed Birthday Briefs

Wednesday night we celebrated Stacey’s birthday with a low key wine and cheese party that consisted of the aforementioned cheese cake and spinach dip. Did I mention the spinach dip had bacon in it? Stacey end up getting a pair of autographed Buffalo Airlines briefs!  I thought this was hilarious! The Buffalo guys are kind of local celebrities from the show Ice Pilots: NWT on the History Channel.  Another show that is putting Hay River on the map is a CBC show called Arctic Air.  It’s essentially the fictionalized version of Ice Pilots, about a small airline based out of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.  They even fly all the same old World War 2 planes that Buffalo famously still flies. The first episode was like déjà vu…at one point they were debating whether or not they’d be able to land on a sand strip….which happened in an Ice Pilots episode.  I’ll probably keep watching the show simply because I want to see Hay River on tv and how it’s portrayed, plus a coworkers husband has some cameos in the background as a member of the ground crew which is kind of fun.  It’ll be interesting to see if the show lasts more than a season and if people get into it or not.

Every day at some point I glance at my shoulder or arm and there is a tiny little feather growing out of my sweater or sleeve and I have to pluck it out and get a flashback to the scene in Black Swan where she pulls the feathers out of the back of her shoulder. The first few times it happened it really creeped me out because it never occurred to me that my coat was shedding. I thought my clothes were randomly sprouting feathers and I had no explanation as to where they were coming from.  I think this is a sure fire sign that I need to watch less TV.  I’ve been trying to watch less tv here in Hay River because I find that since I started living by myself, the tv always seems to be on, regardless of if I’m even paying attention to it or not.  I’ve been trying to read more to prevent myself from watching tv but I always find it so hard to decide between reading or knitting. At least if the tv is on I can knit at the same time.  I was talking to my sister-in-law about this yesterday and we both agreed how annoying it is to have to prioritize.  On one hand I really want to finish the project I’m working on so that I can say that I knitted something to completion, which has not yet happened...I’m new to knitting and when I tried to learn in the past my attention span was that of a gold fish and I’d get bored and move on to something else after  a few measly cumulative hours. On the other hand I’m reading a really great book and want to finish that too just to find out what happens.  I guess I’m lucky that the biggest dilemma I currently have is choosing between knitting and reading.

A friend is lending me her car for the next two weeks so that I’ve got some wheels while Geoff visits me next week and we can do lots of fun stuff that requires a vehicle to access.  I’m picking it up tonight which means I get to ski and snowshoe as often as I want and whenever I want this weekend without having to bum rides off people to the ski club!  It’s going to be a good weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Extra-Credit Calories

Work this week has been much quieter than anticipated.  The number of clients who have no-showed for appointments outweighs the number of those who actually showed up so my crazy busy intense week of running around like a crazy person to get all my charting done and see clients turned into a catch up on nutrition news week.  As much as I would have much preferred to be crazy busy and have clients, nutrition is a pretty hot topic these days in local and international media. It was great to be able to peruse the web and see what kind of nutrition messages are being sent to the general population and my clients. It’s not uncommon for clients to come see me with a headline on their minds and ideas of what and how they should be eating based on something they saw in the Newspaper.  And even less uncommon is to get e-mails from friends or family asking my opinion on these same headlines. Amongst my fellow Nutrition graduates and Dietitians, the various nutrition stories can spark great conversations and debate related to the legitimacy of the research and the credibility of the claims being made.  I really think that taking time to go through news papers and websites helps my practice; I become aware of what messages my clients are getting, I have time to go back to the original research articles to dissect the findings for myself and I stay current on the most recent studies and best practices.

There seemed to be a bit of a trend in articles this week.  Two articles in particular caught my eye.  The first is a story out of France fueled by Pierre Dukan, the creator of the Dukan diet. He is suggesting that France tackle childhood obesity by awarding slim students with extra points on exams.  He wants high school students to be allowed to get extra points on the “baccalaureat” exam for having a BMI between 18 and 24 and to get double these extra points if they can change their BMI from above 25 to within the target range.  Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation (weight in Kg / height in m^2) often used by health professionals to assess and classify body weight.  A BMI of 18.5 0 23.9 is considered “healthy” while a number above 24 is considered overweight or obese based on how high the number is.

The second article came from a little closer to home – a high school in New Brunswick.  This particular high school is grading grade 10 students on more than just math and literacy.  Grade 10 students will also be getting a medical report card listing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, heart rate, blood sugar levels and BMI. The hope of the project is to let students know how they are doing in terms of health and disease risk before they leave high school so that they can make better informed decisions regarding healthy eating and physical activity once they leave home for University or College and have to prepare meals and fend for themselves.  The project’s funding has allowed the school to hire Dietitians to come in to counsel students about healthy eating and leading exercise classes over lunch breaks that are available to all students. The goal of the project is to catch disease risk early enough that the individuals identified as being at high risk have time to alter behaviours and can subsequently prevent future health issues. 

Both of these projects are using high schools as an avenue to fight childhood obesity.  I definitely agree that this is a major issue that warrants intervention but is it really fair to single out students in high schools?  In my opinion, overweight kids know they are overweight.  I’m sure it’s something they deal with every single day, especially in high school, where weight bias is rampant. Do we really need to point out the obvious? Giving extra grades to kids who have a healthy BMI or who are able to lower their BMIs to the healthy range is great, but what resources will be provided to these students to help them achieve this? Are students being taught how to interpret their lab values and results? The cut points for these tests aren't always black and white, and there are many factors that can affect results such as medications etc. At least in New Brunswick they are assessing risk factors that can be prevalent even in ‘skinny’ kids like high cholesterol, blood sugars and blood pressure.  Plus they are providing education for students regarding healthy eating and physical activity. 

I think a better approach would be to begin integrating nutrition and healthy lifestyle education into lesson plans starting in preschool.  There’s no reason that kids can’t learn how to be active, healthy people at the same time as learning reading skills or math skills. Many physical activity programs are being cut from schools to make more time for other subjects but in the grand scheme of things, learning to be healthy and to eat well and be active is going to be way more useful in real life than knowing Pythagoras Theorem for about 99% of students.

Ok my rant is over now. I applaud people for seeing what a big issue obesity has become, particularly childhood obesity, but I also think we should just get back to basics. There’s nothing new or fancy required to be healthy- the formula has always been the same.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Snowshoe Selfies

This week has been really busy but uneventful at the same time if that's possible.  Work was slow and boring but evenings were full of fun activities!  Nothing out of the ordinary, but it's nice to have stuff to do after work.  Since I'm off at 4 o'clock everyday, evenings can feel really long with nothing planned.

Monday: Flew back to Hay River and unpacked / settled in
Tuesday: Back to work, quandrantids fail
Wednesday: Impromptu wing night with ladies from the hospital, some of which I hadn't met yet which was nice.
Thursday: Movie night!  Went to see The Sitter, which I don't recommend you waste money on seeing in the theatres. It was entertaining enough and had a few funny parts but nothing I would go out of my way to watch again.
Saturday: Morning Ski and a mini ski lesson from Bob, evening ski and board games with the gang.
Sunday: Broke in my new snow shoes that Santa brought me on the Hay River. You can't really tell but they're even purple.

It was a great first week back! Nice to get back into the groove of things with lots of fun winter activities. Winter is quickly becoming my favorite season.  I like bundling up to go out and coming home to hot comfort food like soups and stews and you always have an excuse for staying indoors curled up with a good book.  I never really enjoyed winter before.  In PEI winter means rain one day, snow the next and a lot of gross windy and slushy treks to school.  Even at home the dampness of winter chills you to the bone and a morning ski means you're freezing cold all day even after a hot shower and a mug of hot chocolate. Since it's dryer here, there is no bone chilling cold, even at -40C.  To be fair it has been a really warm winter this year, so I've been spoiled and have yet to experience the really cold winter temperatures that are normal here.

Either way I'm not complaining!  I had a lovely (but slightly lonely) snow shoe out on the river this afternoon!  There were a ton of skidooers out and I was a bit nervous I would get run over but I made it back in one piece!

The Hay River with Skidoo and Snowshoe Tracks

Nothing like a good selfie!
Now I'm spending the evening with some my knitting and Game of Thrones.  I am completely aware this makes me super lame and very much like a 90 year old lady but come Christmas 2012 when all my gifts are completed home-made master pieces you'll all be jealous of my granny-ish ways.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Quadrantids Fail

My week home went by so fast!  It was great to be home but it’s also nice to be back into a routine, to have my own space and not to be living out of a suitcase. My trip home was a bit of a whirlwind trying to squeeze in time to see everyone but I’m pretty sure I got to see everyone even if it was just for an hour over breakfast.

Now that I’m back, I have confirmed that the lack of day light is in fact what has been making me feel like a zombie.  At home I was jumping out of bed around 7am every day wide awake and full of energy, but here I’ve been having to drag my butt out of bed after hitting snooze five times every day.  On the bright side it is now daylight when I leave work in the afternoons which is awesome. It’ll be summer before I know it at this rate!

The very first meteor shower of 2012 took place last night with the Quadrantids. It’s an annual shower that is well-known amongst astronomy circles for being awesome. Last year the shower took place with a full moon, causing light pollution that diminished visibility but this year the visibility was expected to be great.  A whole group of us met at the library in town to head out to a top secret star gazing location around 9 pm but sometime between 5:30pm when I was out running errands and 9pm the clouds moved in and completely obstructed the view.  It was so cloudy we didn’t even end up trying to go out to watch. I was pretty bummed!  I’ve never actually seen a meteor shower before I since there is so little light pollution here compared to the city I figured there would be a pretty spectacular show. A few of us ended up going for a long walk instead which wasn’t quite as exciting but still nice to get out of the house and get moving.

Work  is really slow this week because most of my colleagues took the week before the holidays as vacation and consequently have much more to catch up on than I do so no clients were booked for the week.  I didn’t actually miss any work days while I was home since the office was closed so I didn’t even have a single e-mail in my inbox to respond to.  It helps that I’m still relatively new and people probably don’t know to contact me yet. As a result I’ve been learning about meteor showers this morning and have been reading up on my Diabetes Educator Competencies.  Not exactly my ideal day but I can’t exactly be sitting at my desk reading Game of Thrones now can I?  If only….