Wednesday, February 09, 2011

This And That

I apologize for the delayed update. I have been having a few issues with my laptop that I hope I have sorted out by now. However, I do admit procrastination played a major role and I can’t guarantee I’ll be updating you with 2 weeks worth of content. I also have a lack of personal pictures for most of the things I will be explaining.

So apart from the Monday-Friday (8:00-17:00) work routine I have become accustomed to, I do manage to spend some of my off time doing things around town either individually or with people. Jane (my coworker) has been very welcoming and nice to me since I have been here and I get along well with her family (consisting of her son, her mom, and ‘Grandpa’; a man in his late 80’s who has been a friend of Jane’s for a long time and represents a grandfatherly figure to her son). I have been over to Jane’s house several times for dinner and she has invited me to a few places around the area. I was invited one Thursday night by Jane to go relax at Takhini Hot Springs since Thursdays are cheaper than the standard price (a hot spring which is comparable to a very large hot tub filled with natural mineral water partitioned into a warm and hot section). So Jane and I arrive at the hot spring, we pay for our admission and we go our separate ways to the change rooms. Once you leave the change rooms toward where the hot springs are, the male and female change room exits converge into a long, enclosed corridor where you can keep your towels and flip flops in the meantime. This corridor is also outside and is in no way heated (in other words, it is very cold when you’re in your bathing suit and the temperature is -20 degrees C). The corridor then leads you into the hot spring as you walk down a small set of steps into the water and move through dangling rubber flaps. As I acquired vision of the actual hot spring as I came through the rubber flaps, I noticed Jane with a semi-horrified and semi-laughing expression. So Jane and I both observed the hot spring area, and it turns out that apparently Thursday nights are popular for couples making out. We sure had a good laugh about it as Jane was dearly hoping I didn’t think she was some cougar trying to seduce me at the hot spring on ‘couples night’. Here are some pictures of the hot spring at night that I acquired from their website.

There are 2 movie theatres in Whitehorse. Don’t let that number convince you that Whitehorse is any bigger than you previously though. Each theatre has 2 cinemas and the movies that play there are ones that have been previously released to the rest of the world a couple months before. They are ‘no name’ cinemas but I actually like them because they add character to the city. Jane, her mom and I went to one of the theatres one night to see the movie The King’s Speech. The movie was alright but I got pretty frustrated watching it after awhile trying not to bust my own ear drums to cope with Bertie’s speech impediment (if you haven’t seen the movie or don’t know what it’s about, this is not a spoiler since it is quite evident at the beginning of the movie that he has a speech disability). I think if I could relate more to the movie or knew more of the history that ties into it then I would have a much higher appreciation of it. Regardless, it was still a pretty good bargain since the theatre was having a special that night and $10 got you a movie admission as well as a medium popcorn and a medium soft drink (which I consider to be a great deal knowing how much worse the prices could be other places). Something I really noticed about the theatre was that for every garbage can there was a recycling bin right beside it even inside the cinemas. I am very impressed with the recycling system here and I find it is a way better system than Ontario. On cans, bottles, or glass containers you pay a deposit at the grocery store (or wherever you buy them) and you get that money back when you bring the containers to the recycling depot. For other recyclables that you don’t pay deposits on, the recycling depot has about 20 different giant steel bins outside where you can pull up your vehicle and sort out your recycling specifically into the appropriate bins. It’s amazing how much more you can separate your recyclables than you originally thought you could. I see it as if you’re too lazy to recycle the things you pay a deposit on, then the deposit goes towards other people having to sort those things for you. If you’re motivated enough to take your recyclables back that you pay a deposit on, then you’re more encouraged to bring your other recyclables as well and sort them out correctly there. One thing to note is that liquor bottles are included in this category so people who drink more occasionally would be stupid not to take their bottles back for money. One could argue that it is less environmentally friendly to have each person individually return their recyclables because of the waste of extra gas but I think it works well here because the depot is almost centralized in the downtown sector and that Whitehorse isn’t a comparably large city as something like Hamilton (Whitehorse’s population is approximately 20,000 compared to Hamilton’s 504,000 being 25x greater).

I went to see a performance by a person named Nicole Edwards last week at a place called the Old Fire Hall. Nicole and her band play music that falls under a folk and blues genre. I’m not really into that type of music to begin with but the energy in that room was so powerful and I felt like she had a great control on motivating the crowd to let loose and be happy. Now I know that doesn’t sound like too much of a feat but it’s the fact that this woman has a debilitating autoimmune disease called scleroderma that she must deal with and fight every day of her life that makes me impressed that she is able to make the best of her situation and do what she loves to do. Her physical physique looks quite skeletal and the skin on her fingers has shortened to the point that she has lost the ability to play guitar anymore. For not being so inclined to have the same taste in music, I still feel the performance and positive energy she contributed were more than enough for me to enjoy myself.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to enjoy the night time visual phenomena of Aurora Borealis. I keep looking up the ‘Auroral forecast’ and when I see that the activity level is more active, the night has either been cloudy or I wasn’t able to see anything distinctly different. I do hope I get to see the sky change cool colours before I come back. In the event that happens, I hope my camera is decent enough to capture the moment well.

This is a cool sunrise I captured instead on my way to work. Don't let that street lamp fool you!

The main highlight that I experienced in the past 2 weeks is the start of the Yukon Quest. The Yukon Quest is an annual sled dog race that extends 1000 miles from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska. A person who dog sleds is called a musher. I think it is insanely impressive that mushers can travel 1000 miles with that many dogs with limited supplies. The fastest the race has ever been completed is in 9 days, 26 minutes by a musher named Hans Gatt but it is more common for people to take around 10-13 days to complete it. I happened to get quite a few pictures of this event and will post a few of the best ones.

My neighbour's pickup truck...I'm guessing this must be their summer vehicle.

I saw this guy in the crowd and felt compelled to take the picture. The rest of the fur hat (which looked like almost a whole animal) went 3/4 of the way down his back.

It's too bad cats can't take you 1000 miles unless you plan on taming and training lynxes. For cat lovers out there, I read an article from the Ongoing History of New Music by Alan Cross that I found interesting:

What Kind of Music Should I Buy My Cat?

Here is a question that I get all the time: “What kind of music should I buy for my cat?” 
Seriously.  If you have a cat in the house, you’ll know that he or she can be very sensitive to sound.  Is your cat compatible with your musical tastes?  Back in 2002, a team of Austrian psychologists spent five days filming cats being exposed to music.  When they heard something they liked, they moved closer to the speaker.  When they heard something they didn’t like, they moved further away.  Here’s what they found: Cats seem to really dig music with a really fast beat.  What’s more, they seem to prefer music with deep bass as opposed to lots of high frequencies. 
What does this mean for you and your cat?  These psychologists might prescribe heavy electronic music or low-slung rock like grunge.  Just stay away from any songs with guitar solos.  Cats don’t like guitar solos.

When I see Tigger again I'll be sure to go out and buy a subwoofer and blare Daft Punk all the time.