Great Canadian Adventure, Eh (Part 2)

September 16, 2017 10:40:10AM

Oh, man. I've really fallen behind on this. Well, not just on this or that, but a lot of things. I should really get this Canada trip series done because 1) the memories are very hazy, even with my notes and b) I'm going on another international trip soon! So I have to make room for more rememberies. Okay, let us continue our journey in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Day 1—Saturday, January 14, 2017

First morning in Canada! If I recall correctly, there's still snow on the ground. The hotel we were in, while actually very nice, did not have a continental breakfast buffet. It did have an attached restaurant, but the reviews were not so good. Looking at the Google Maps, we locate a Tim Horton's about a block away. Driving would be too easy. Time for a walk in the brisk, freezing temperatures of Canada!

I broke down the clothing in the last post. Basically, everyday was the same setup—thermal underwear top and bottom, jeans, flannel shirt (hip and practical), three-in-one jacket (insulating layer under weatherproof shell), gloves, beanie, athletic socks, and boots. The ensemble worked out great. The boots were not great for a while. I had to start walking differently because the the top of the boot was digging into my calf. And the coldness was about at the limit of the boots temperature rating, so most days it was just enough to not have frozen feet.

Anyway, this is our first foray into the cold. Yeah, we were out the night before, but this time, we were walking at least 3/4 of a mil...I mean, about 1.21 km. Was it cold? Yes. I don't remember what the temperature was, but it was somewhere in the 0°-3°C. It was fun crunching through the snow; the boots provided ample traction on the icy parts. We finally land inside Tim Horton's where everything is hot now because of all of the layers.

We ordered some form of breakfast sandwich, which was passable. The real treat was the donuts. For a "specialty" donut, they were quite good. They're cakey donuts, which usually aren't my thing. I can't recall exactly what flavors we got. I think the donut was a sour cream thing, and the donut holes (Timbits®) I think were different flavors. All good stuff.

After breakfast, we ventured into a nearby gas station to investigate our cellular options. Luckily, it seemed like 95% of places had wifi, but we really wanted something so we could navigate. We did a lot of research pre-trip on different carriers, and the main lesson I took away is that Canadians don't seem to be really happy with their cellular service. But, we had to make do. One of the big gas station chains, Petro Canada, had one of the cheaper pre-paid plans, so we went with that. I think we got 1GB of data, which was more than sufficient for our needs.

We get back to the hotel to load one of our phones with this SIM card, only to find we don't have a tool to pop out the tray. We searched the room high and low for something, even trying a shard of a coffee stirrer (spoilers, didn't work). The front desk was without paper clips, which I find questionable. In hindsight, maybe they were holding out on us. Well, there was a dollar store, Dollarama, near the Tim Horton's, so we venture back out into the cold winter morning. We drove this time! Probably to save time. We picked up some safety pins, actually a pack of 100 or so different sized ones. Slightly more than we need, but it gets the job done. We're on the Canadian grid!

In the afternoon, we headed out in search of a place to play in the snow. I was pretty much just looking for big green areas on the GMaps, and we ended up driving to Mill Woods Park. Armed with our usual winter gear and legged with snow pants, we did some light frolicking. There was a small hillside the kids were sledding and tubing down. I'm not a snow expert, but the snow on the ground was more icy than powdery, so it didn't seem optimal for balling. We were able to construct something that passed as a snowman. We made snow angels. Probably the two most touristy things we could do. Walking through the park, it was snow all around as far as you could see. It was pretty cool.

After we had enough of the snow, we headed over to a little mall area across the street to grab lunch. Just normal mall food. I think I had a burger from A&W. By now, the weather was starting warm up a bit. I recall the car telling us it was a toast 8°C, about 46°F. The warmth was noticable.

Back at the hotel, we took a nice afternoon nap, which would become part of the routine. Now it's dinner time. We head out a few miles down the road to an Indian place. There were a lot of international foods around, and a seeming lack of Canadian food places. But I guess, what is "Canadian" food? Besides poutine and maybe a few desserts, I don't know that we really ever got a taste of Canadian cuisine. Or maybe it's just really similar to American? Anyway, I don't remember what our Indian meal was, but it was probably good enough.

And that was our first day experiencing Canada. While it wasn't super adventurous, I think we got a good taste of the winter weather. Well, I still have 6 days to cover, and those are filled with more interesting stories.

canada snow tim horton's donuts winter travel edmonton

Great Canadian Adventure, Eh (Part 1)

April 09, 2017 03:19:07PM

Hey, I'm finally getting around to journal my great adventure in Canada. What a great an exciting time it was. I wish I did this sooner because the memories, while not faded, are surely a bit hazy. Anyway, this one ended up a lot longer than I thought; I'm not sure how I'll break down the other days of the trip, but I'll try to keep the total number of entries to a minimum. Thanks for reading (if you did).

Day 0—Friday, January 13, 2017

Even though it was a scary date, it was also very exciting. This was going to be my first international journey. I guess it's a little less nerve-wracking going to a country that is so similar. Anyway, travel day!

I don't have extensive flying experience. Pretty much all of my flights out of SD have been out of Terminal 1. A while ago, I dropped my sister and her family off at Terminal 2, and it seemed so fancy with it's two-tier drop-off and pick-up area. I was not let down when I finally got to go inside Terminal 2. It seemed so spacious! Maybe because there weren't a lot of people. Or because it's so giant. Or both!

I forget how early we showed up. Our flight was at 12pm, so we were probably there around 9:30am or so. Check in was a breeze. Virtually no line to get through TSA. Even though it wasn't busy, it was still very stressful. We sit around for a bit, and when it gets closer to boarding, we search out for food. We walked down to the other side of the terminal, and I really got a feel for how giant it is. At some point, I also bought some water at a shop, and they had discounted Chargers gear. (This would have been right after they announced their move.) Anyway, plane boarding time.

Surprisingly, not a lot of people on the plane. I had a whole two-seat row to myself. The neatest part of this plane was that they had power outlets. I think I mostly slept and played games on my phone. I think was was five-hour flight to our stop in Calgary. I snapped a couple of photos out the window. There were quite a few snowy landscapes as we got further north. The geotagging on my images says I got pictures over Utah and Idaho.

We land in Calgary, and they have a gigantic airport. I forget exactly what distance the direction signs said, but it was a good 15ish minute walk to get to our gate. It was a trip to see snow on the ground outside. The flight to Edmonton is a short one, so we would be taking a small commuter plane. Which meant a short jaunt in the elements to get to the plane.

I guess I should breakdown what I wore that day to travel. If I recall correctly, on top, I had a long-sleeve thermal top with a t-shirt over it. I wore just jeans, normal underwear. I did wear thick wool socks under my slip-ons. Didn't fit really well, but it worked. So, before we got on our connecting flight, I broke out the heavy jacket. I also had a beanie, but I don't think I wore it now. Anyway, it's time to walk outside for a bit to board. I definitely don't mean to downplay the coldness. It was certainly a shocking cold chill, but I don't think it was terrible. I think the my feet got the worst of it. The shoe/sock combo was not optimal.

This flight was not surprisingly more packed, but it was a short flight. We reached our destination without a hitch. Edmonton's airport, delightfully identified as YEG, seemed less giant, but we probably just had a shorter distance to travel. We get our luggage and bundle up a bit more. We also exchanged some boring American money for fancy Candian money. Time to get the rental car.

This part was the one I worried about the most. I've never driven in cold, icy conditions, or in another country for that matter. Luckily, it wasn't snowing, though there was snow on the ground. I had previously downloaded an area map on Google Maps, so that helped with navigation. We got a nice something (I forget what exactly), a compact something equipped with winter tires (also a stress reliever). The drive to the hotel was a straight shot up the freeway.

Strangely enough, driving in Canada is very similar to driving in America. Except everything is in kilometers (kilometres?) instead of miles. I never quite got used to driving 100km/h, which felt fast because it's a big number, but it's really only 60mph or so, which I would consider slow here. Some notes about driving in Canada:

  • The freeways are very well-lit. It was very nice. I want that here.
  • When lanes on the freeway end, the lines go straight into the line on the shoulder.
  • Hopefully, turning right on red is legal there, because I did that many times.
  • I really like how most left- and right-turn lanes were forked off from straight traffic.

We get to the hotel and settle in a bit. It's dinnertime, so we decide to search for food. After some Yelping, we end up at a place called Original Joe's. Seemed like your typical restaurant/bar place. Sadly, the local townsfolk did not have very noticable accents. That's besides the point. We ordered a burger of some sort and, of course, had poutine. This place also brought out a caddy of condiments to go along with the poutine. Ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, malt vinegar, and a couple other ones I can't remember. The poutine is pretty good on its own (delicious gravy!), but I liked the ketchup addition. Another weird thing about Canada is that when you pay with a credit card, they make you swipe it. Seems much more secure, but to be honest, it wasn't something I considered before.

And that was our first night in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was a long day of travel, but it was an exciting adventure, and it was just beginning.

canada travel vacation snow poutine driving airports airplanes calgary edmonton

Cannot compute (a life update of sorts)

March 21, 2017 09:12:11PM

Okay, so another long while has passed. It is quite unfortunate. I wish I could say I've been legitimately busy, but you know that's really not the case. Here's a really quick update, regardless.

Neato backlighting
Neato backlighting!

Neato backlighting I did buy a new laptop. It was kind of exciting! Admittedly, I do have a bit of buyer's remorse, but I think it should serve me well. I opted to not go with an Apple to save some money (which would, ironically, partly alleviate the impact when buying a new iPhone). I did have a small list of requirements—quad-core (probably more power than I actually need), 14"-15", full-HD resolution, 16GB RAM (happy to upgrade myself), 512GB SDD (also happy to do it myself), and Thunderbolt 3 (really, just for future-proofing). All of that led me to a nice Acer V Nitro. If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely pay more attention to the size and weight. An ultrabook is probably what I really wanted. (Let's be honest, a MacBook Pro is what I *wanted*.) It's a bit heavier and larger than I expected, but it's not entirely unwieldy.

Luckily, the computer did fulfill the RAM requirement out of the box. It came with a 1TB hard drive. I need dat SSD action doe! I fitted it with an M.2 SATA drive; I momentarily considered going PCIe, but that seemed too extravagant. Then there was a nice adventure wrangling UEFI and partition tables and other things I don't really know about, but it boots and it's speedy. My ultimate goal was to dual-boot with Linux, which I would use as my primary. That was another whole thing with secure boot and other thingamajigs. So then I got that working! Then I spent about a week or so trying to pick out what distro I wanted to use. Ubuntu just seemed to n00bish. I am too B). Thinking back on it, I guess I didn't really test drive very many. I remember getting ISOs for Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Arch Linux (Antergos). Anyway, I'm currently running Antergos (first with Cinnamon, now using GNOME). After a few go arounds, I finally realized the usefulness of putting the home directory on its own partition, so should I want to try Solus next month, I can do that without too much hassle. I feel so h@x0r.

Next-level Vim Anyway, I think that is a somewhat legitimate reason for not blogging. You can't blog without a computer, right? I've also been keeping busy working on my personal projects. I finally got my old website migrated, so that's a nice checkbox that took a while to check. I'm also working on a simple catalogging website which will end up being for my own personal use, so, of course, I'm making it as complicated as possible. I'm using Node.js and Express, and I'm also taking a test-driven(ish) approach. Sometimes, I think writing the tests take longer than the implementation. If this were actually what I worked on full-time, I'm not sure what kind of time impact TDD would have, but it's nice to have a test suite and all that stuff. I've also eschewed modern technology and have been developing using Vim. So l33t. I have plenty of plugins loaded up to make it very IDE-like. There are probably some things that I'm missing, but so far, it's working out quite well.

Next-level Vim
Next-level Vim

Well, I guess that was really an update on my computer relationship. Otherwise, that part about being legitimately busy was a lie. A lie. (<-"bold-faced" lie, some subtle pun action). I do still want to chronicle my adventures in Canada. As it gets further away, it gets a bit more hazy, which is unfortunate, so I should do that right away. I don't really know what else to blog about these days. If I do get start writing more, I imagine it will be as random as this.

That's all I got for now.


blog computers laptops linux arch linux ubuntu antergos fedora opensuse vim node.js javascript random

What's old is new

January 27, 2017 08:54:11PM

Well, it's been quite a while. And it's a whole new year, too! This first month has passed by somewhat quickly.

Anyway, if for some reason you are reading this, maybe you have, for some reason, wondered if I have any old blog entries. For some reason, I do. There's a nifty link in the top right corner. In case it's not there, you can point to (I should probably point at that.) I'm pretty much going to leave it as it is. If anything is particularly broken or weird, it's just a cool feature or easter egg.

So, there's that. I will try to will try to blog a bit more. Like a legitimate concerted effort. I mean, I just went on a trip to CANADA, and I think that it worth documenting, at least for myself. Look forward to that if you choose.

Have fun.


blog stuff old blog

AWS naiveté / quick update

September 03, 2016 09:18:22AM

Hello! It's been a short while. I guess I really haven't been good about writing in this thing, but I promise to work on it.

Just a quick technical update. I have this site running on Amazon Web Services, or AWS as it is known. Currently, I'm taking advantage of the free-tier—for your first year, they offer a subset of their services for free. Neat. Their free-tier EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) allows for 750 hours of usage of their t2.micro instances (1 vCPU and 1GB of memory). My dunderheadness assumed it was 750 hours per instance, but, in actuality (and more logically), it's 750 hours total for all instances.

So, with my original thinking, I spun up two instances—one web server and one database server—and went on my merry way. How foolish I felt when I got a bill. Anyway...Lesson learned. Actually, even though I essentially paid for one instance, the rough price for two isn't too bad. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

In a quick switch, I moved the database, so now everything is on one machine. Thank you, Ansible!

Quick life update: no news is good news? I will try to think of more things to share with you, my small audience.


aws ansible website devops

Facebook privacy

August 08, 2016 02:12:31PM

We all pronounced that the British way in our heads, right?

Anyway, it was brought to my attention that the nice Facebook link I have in the footer doesn't work. Well, it does, and it doesn't. If you're currently logged in to FB, it will take you to my page like magic. If you are anonymous, then it will say that the page doesn't exist. This is because I have excluded my profile from public searches. I think I would like to keep it that way.

So if you're really itching to look at my Facebook (and who is, really?), then you'll need to log in. I ain't too mad at it.


What's good? (I'm back...)

August 07, 2016 05:02:05AM

It'sa me...! Well, I suppose there's a reason I don't post many pictures of myself.

Hello, friends. It's me. Mike. I believe it's been a minute, as they say. In reality, it has been many minutes. I guess this is my way of saying, "After x number of minutes, this is me IRL now."

It looks like it was two Novembers ago that I last wrote in my blog. My, how time flies sometimes. Cliché as it is, man, it seems like it was a better time then. But there are many things that make now a much better time, and we'll get to that soon enough.

So, almost two whole years. What's good?

I guess one of the biggest changes is me having a new job. Hold on, rewind. One of the biggest changes was me leaving my old job. After eight years of gainful employment, circumstances called for a change. Maybe it was overdue for that anyway, but it was tough when it was pretty much forced. And it was a weird few months as it was winding down. I won't go into the deets, but it was a emotional rollercoaster of emotions. The way it went down sucks for a variety of reasons.

Fast forward to today, I now have a new place of employment, and...well, it's just not the same. The work is fine. It's different. It's been almost a year, but I still feel pretty new, and I'm still learning how things work. Socially, it definitely hasn't been very fulfilling, but admittedly, I'm not really trying very hard (neither is anyone else, but whatevs). It's paying the bills and keeping me busy-ish, so I can't/shouldn't complain too much.

Anyway, that's mostly what's been going on. It's a little bittersweet because I can see the old office in the distance from the kitchen in the new office. Whenever I'm heating up my food, I can't help but think, "I really freaking miss it." And I really do.

I've been romantically involved with someone. It's pretty cool.

What else?

This website! It's been a long time coming. I was planning to update the website of old, but I thought I should try something new. I randomly decided to use Python and the Pyramid web framework. Now, I can't and won't say I really "know" either, but I obviously know enough to be dangerous and to be able to build something.

Professionally, if I didn't take a step backward, I think I would say I took a step sideways. I try to make time to learn new things, like Python for example, but I need to rethink how I learn, because, as I said, a Python expert I am not. I'm not really sure what things I want to add here, but I have some fledgling ideas of projects I want to work on, whether related to this site or not.

I think that's all the big stuff that anyone who might be interested might want to know. I don't know why they would want to know this stuff. I don't know what will become of this—how often I'll post, what I'll post, etc. For the last couple of years, I've definitely had an itch to chronicle my adventures, so I'm glad I have a new place to do that. I'm sure I'll be back soon to prattle on about some something or other.

I'm planning to archive my old posts somehow. For now, they're still at, and eventually, that will point you to here. If you care. I suspect that you do not.

That's all I got. Have fun..


what's good blog life

Dear diary...

None shall pass...!