Tag Archives: podcasts

Stanley Park Seawall

Five reasons to love Vancouver

Since this post from three years ago continues to gather readers, I think it’s about time I cook myself up some crow pie, grab a fork in each hand, and double-fist a big ol’ mea culpa.

I’m back in Vancouver. I’ve been back here for seven months, and I love it. I love this city with all its problems, because the great things about Vancouver outweigh her faults, and besides, I have always had a soft spot for this city. You’ll note, in that post from three years ago, I said “I quite like it and, given other circumstances, I’m sure I could happily live there.” Here’s why:

1. I get so much done on my commute to work

Haha just kidding. I’m working from home most days as an independent communications professional. But when I do commute (and when I’m at the gym), I listen to podcasts and audiobooks – all my favourites: Radiolab, This American Life, Reply All, Criminal, and now Where There’s Smoke. I recently listened to all 14 hours of Neal Stephenson’s latest novel: Seveneves (highly recommended!). Honestly, when I look back at the namby-pamby 35 minute commute to downtown I was complaining about three years ago, I laugh at my formerly whiny self. If I worked downtown again I would probably take my commuter bike at least some of the time. Speaking of which …

2. Have you seen all these gorgeous bike lanes?

The City just completed new road surface for the bike route I would take to downtown from here. A nice, slightly hilly 10K to downtown, where there are separated lanes throughout. Before we moved into my Marpole condo, we lived in a small apartment on Main Street, where it was a barely sweaty, absolutely, stunningly beautiful 5 km jaunt around False Creek to downtown. Vancouver, like Victoria, is cyclist heaven.

I hope, when they build the new bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel, they also have plans for a separated bike track all the way from Tsawwassen into Vancouver. That would be amazing, because I do still love to get back to Victoria once a month or so.

I also can’t believe I was complaining about no running routes three years ago, when I routinely ran False Creek/Stanley Park, and look at those North Shore mountains for trail running! Also, just over the bridge into Richmond are some really nice stretches by the airport.

people doing yoga on paddleboards  just off Kits Beach in Vancouver

Why yes indeed, those are Vancouverites doing yoga on paddleboards.

3. The weather is really nice. Even when it rains.

No really, it is. I’m writing this at the start of a heat wave, and we’ve barely had rain for a month now, but that’s not clouding my judgment (see what I did there?). This past winter was not bad at all, weather-wise.

Shut up about climate change* for now, I’m trying to enjoy this.

4. Proximity to new friends

I make friends easily. I admit, the first six months of my return I felt like a bit of a recluse, but I’m putting that down to the knee surgery I had in April, and before that, an incredibly stressful job. As I get further away from both (I found a wonderful physiotherapist and I’ll be running again soon – RUNNING!) my circle is expanding. I threw myself into my professional association (IABC/BC), I have volunteered for the next Interesting Vancouver, I went to a LikeMind meetup that stoked my creative side (I’ve been writing like crazy since then), we’ve invited friends over for dinner. Who says it’s hard to meet people in Vancouver?

5. Family

My son and my youngest daughter are still in Victoria, but as my youngest turned 21 last year, I realized she’s really, truly OK and ready to launch. I was so glad to have the past three years with her though! She now has a plan and she’s going for it (she got into a nursing program, I’m so proud of her). My son got his B.A. and is going overseas soon.

I was at the Open Textbook Summit a few weeks ago, talking with Clint (a colleague from BCcampus), and someone else; explaining that I’d moved back here.

“Why did you move back?” my friend said.

I started to go through reasons 1 through 4 above, when Clint interrupted me with a smile: “She moved here for LUUUUUV,” he said. And he was right.

Just over a year ago I met my partner, Ken, and my life has been so much better since then. Within months I knew without a doubt he is the one I want to be with. He’s my family, my support, my collaborator and co-conspirator, my anchor. He’s been on the lower mainland all his life and he loves teaching at BCIT and Emily Carr, so it was a no-brainer that, with my career mobility, and with my already owning a home here, that I would be the one to move.

6. Bonus – it’s all about the one per cent, the things you can control: yourself.

Last week we attended a talk by Brett Gajda, who, with Nick Jaworsky, does the Where There’s Smoke podcast. Something he said smart-bombed straight into my soul and exploded with comprehension. It’s one of those things you hear for years, and you think “yeah, yeah, that’s right, I agree,” but you don’t really comprehend how it affects your life until suddenly one day it burrows into the space inside where you need it most. I’m paraphrasing, but here it is:

“Things outside of your control are so big you sometimes can’t help focusing on them. After all, 99% of the problems you have in the world are outside your control. The only thing you can really control is – yourself. Your actions, your attitudes, your values, your choices. But the moment you focus on the 1% right in front of you, everything is different. EVERYTHING.”

So yes, there were reasons to leave Vancouver, and there were reasons to come back to Vancouver. But more than that, there are reasons to be comfortable and happy with the person inside, so you’re content wherever in the world you find yourself next. And that’s the most wonderful place to be.

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*Seriously though, I am worried about climate change. That’s why I take transit and ride my bike.

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punk guitar

Weekly picks March 23-29

Here’s what I’m reading and listening to this past week:

Reading:

Not Telling, by Alice Mattison

I wish I could say I am writing 2,000 words per day on my first novel while I’m between work assignments, but I’m not yet in that habit. Instead, I’m reading about writing and calling it creative procrastination. Truth is, if I ever am writing something big, I will probably tell no one until it’s done, not even my partner. That’s why I was pleased to come across this article about writing as a private activity: “I secretly do research, buy books and never say why, and don’t ask for information I need unless I can disguise the reason. I once went to an exhibit in a nearby city about trolley cars (I was writing a novel about them) and never told my husband I had left town that day. It is like having an affair.”

N.B. I read the New York Times a lot . So much so that I usually use up my ten free article per month. It’s probably worth subscribing. After all, I would love to get paid for writing, which means someone has to buy it, right?

I (re)learned one thing from writing 212 blog posts in 2014, by Jonathan Anthony

I saw Anthony @ThisMuchWeKnow speak at a holiday IABC event last December, and was mightily impressed. I’ve been devouring all This Much We Know posts I missed, mainly because from December – end of February I neglected my personal projects (including this site), to my own detriment. As this post concludes: “Here’s to more messing around and showing up in 2015.”

Moral Disorder, by Margaret Atwood

An actual, physical book, that I signed out physically from the public library. Don’t that beat all?  When I wandered into the central branch (AKA “Caprica City Hall” ) last week, I didn’t find any of the books actually on my list, so I put a couple of holds and went with a previously unread book by a reliable standby author. My motto is: there are so many good books I haven’t read, I don’t waste time on something that doesn’t grab me. Atwood always grabs me.

Podcasts:

Reply All

On the recommendation of one of the other podcasts I listen to regularly, I’m catching up on Reply All, a new podcast about the internet, hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. I’ve listened to the first four episodes and I’m a fan.

Los Frikis, Radiolab

punk guitarThis is an episode I would have expected from This American Life, as it is somewhat of a departure for RadioLab. I won’t give it all away, because it’s a compelling story that unfolds as you listen, but I will say it’s about the punk movement in Cuba (“frikis” is pronounced like the English”freakies”) and you should go listen to it right away.

The Journey Within, The Dirtbag Diaries

I hold onto my days spent climbing cliffs outdoors via the occasional DirtBag Diaries podcast. In this episode, Chris Kalman, a true “dirtbag,” who lives simply in order to climb more, faces a difficult choice after he commits to going to Patagonia on the climbing trip of a lifetime.

It occurs to me, after the post where I interviewed some friends about their sports injuries requiring surgery, that I could make some of my posts into podcasts. After all, Ken has a great mic around here that he uses in his teaching, and I did start out my communications career as a broadcaster …

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Weekly picks March 15-21

I read a lot and I listen to a lot of podcasts. Here’s an annotated selection of what has caught my attention lately:

Podcasts:

RadioLab – La Mancha Screwjob

One of my favourite podcasts, Radiolab manages sometimes to draw connections between things that you would think are utterly unrelated to each other. This episode connects the world of pro wrestling (which I have always thought of as soap opera for the hyper-masculinized) and Don Quixote by Cervantes (the tilting-at-windmills adventure which has always fascinated me).

Turns out (and it’s obvious when you think about it) they’re both meta-narratives, where the spectator is drawn into the story with a nudge and a wink, where to question the authenticity and veracity of the story is to ruin the experience. The question isn’t “Is this for real?” The question is “How can I, as an observer, fully engage in this wonderful, crazy journey?”

Caustic Soda – Turtles

I’m giving away my unorthodox sense of humour by outing myself as a Caustic Soda fan! This podcast is not prime-time listening. No topic is too gruesome, horrible, or cringe-inducing for these guys, but they’re also pretty funny and, more importantly, science-based. They do their research.

I’m a late convert to this 6-years-running podcast. I started listening after I met co-host Joe Fulgham at a Vancouver Skeptics in the Pub event a year or so ago. When I saw him again at the monthly downtown Vancouver SiTP last week, he said he was surprised there was enough grossness for a CS episode on turtles (I wasn’t!). Which got into a whole ‘nother string of grody animal husbandry anecdotes from people there. A good time was had by all.

Star Talk Radio – Star Talk Live! Evolution with Richard Dawkins Part 1

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is one of my favourite people, and this is one of my favourite podcasts. I include this show because I found out that Richard Dawkins is married to a former actress who was a Doctor Who companion, who actually ended up married her Doctor (Tom Baker) for a time. She was introduced to Dawkins by their mutual friend Douglas Adams. That is actually more impressive to me than Sir Richard himself. Mind. Blown.

Articles/books:

New York Times – The Heartstopping Climbs of Alex Honnold, by Daniel Duane

I used to be a rock climber, but Honnold is in a staggeringly unique league of his own. He climbs free-solo (without ropes or protection) big, difficult walls that take others days to scale. I’m always intensely interested in free-solo climbers; mostly I wonder if there are any former such climbers who didn’t fall to their deaths. Maybe Honnold will be one of the few …

The Atlantic – What ISIS Really Wants, by Graeme Wood

When is a terrorist group more than a terrorist group? When it is motivated by religion rather than politics or thrill-seeking, and world governments would do well to study those motivations closely. “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.” My Political Science/Sociology background and interest in current events has not waned over the years.

Frank SidebottomFrank, by Jon Ronson

This short e-book is only CDN$2.99 on Amazon. It’s the true story of Frank Sidebottom, the strangest musical group you’d ever want to see, fictionalized to the nth degree for the 2014 movie starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender, and Domhnall Gleeson (as the Ronson-ish character).

And finally:

Using Trello for your Personal Productivity System

I’m trying out the Kanban productivity system, using Trello, while I’m between work assignments. So far I’m impressed – I love the visual aspect of it. Blog post to come later, when I’ve had more time to play around and evaluate.

Image of Frank Sidebottom by James, used under Creative Commons License.

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