My Best Friend Natalie

Moose Jaw Storm

Moose Jaw Storm

At the risk of angering the perpetual-winter gods, I think it’s finally summer. It has been a long winter for sure, but Regina is looking much less white these days. I hear that Alberta has been sharing our suffering, and BC not at all!

Sam is back in the lab working on her thesis, and I started my new position. The people are great and I’m excited to spend my summer there. I am also going to be working on a paper over the summer, as well as attending a conference at the end of May, on top of all the traveling Sam and I are planning.

I’ve had a week off between exams and starting in the lab. I spent Saturday working on the car. I replaced the wheel hub, but ran into some trouble when I couldn’t retract the piston to put the brake caliper back on. Natalie, being a spectacular and selfless hero, drove me to Rona to buy a C-clamp. On Monday, I convinced Sam to take the day off and we went to Moose Jaw to do some shopping. There are a lot of gift shops to see and we had lunch in a quirky little cafe.

We’re looking forward to seeing Sam’s parents on her birthday this month. We’ll also see Mumford and Sons in concert, which someone is very excited about. I will fly back a little early to attend the conference in Regina, but we’re very lucky to have the time off. I’ve only ever been to one concert and it wasn’t nearly this big as this one will be.

Beers with Daniel!

Beers with Daniel!

fluffy tummy

fluffy tummy

Jordan

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Trips, Plans, and Perpetual Winter

Hello everybody! I hope you are enjoying your lovely Spring weather. I have to resentfully report that it’s still Winter here. The sun was out the last few days, but it’s grey and cloudy again today. The snow is somehow melting despite how freezing it is outside, but I have yet to really feel like the cold is over. It even snowed for a bit this afternoon.

I snuck away from Regina and my internship from April 3-7 to go to sunny La Jolla, California for the annual ADAA research conference. Holly, Michelle and I flew down early together to have a day of shopping and relaxing before the conference got started Thursday night. We left the hotel mid-morning on Thursday for a short walk to a nearby grocery store, where I learned the joys of genuinely ripe mango, pour-your-own-honey, fresh seafood, and just-prepared tubs of guacamole and salsa. I think it would be fun to stay at a place with a kitchenette and cook meals with all the fresh food there! Right next to the grocery store was a paper/scrapbooking store, where I probably confused the girls by buying $80 worth of paper. Worth it.

Outdoor shopping mall

Just a couple blocks away we found an outdoor shopping mall with basically all of my favorite stores. I killed a lot of money and I wasn’t alone. I don’t ever swim but I bought a new swimsuit anyways. However, I always walk and I bought new shoes, so I think that balances out the practicality. The mall had everything from Sephora to Tiffany&Co, Forever21 to Guess, and an outdoor patio area with live performance. I managed to get a little bit of sunshine, though I didn’t end up with any necklace-shaped sunburns like I did in Washington last year.

After we headed back to the hotel to drop off our goods, the conference started in full swing. Thursday night there was a keynote speaker and an outdoor, poolside reception. There was a huge Regina contingent at ADAA this year and it was nice to catch up with everybody. I managed to take in two symposium sets on Friday, both on PTSD and the military, and which will inform a lot of the research my lab is doing in upcoming years. A bunch of us took a lunch break involving The Best Sushi I have ever had (though unfortunately also some of the worst service I’ve ever had). I spent a good chunk of time preparing for a talk of my own scheduled for Saturday morning. Friday night many of my labmates were presenting posters, so we hung out at the poster session and had drinks at the hotel bar afterwards.

Me and my fancy research poster

Saturday – scary day! – I had my first ever conference talk at 8:30 am. I spoke about a publication we just put out looking at the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty and risk for developing PTSD. It was modestly attended, mostly by Regina crew, but it was a good confidence-building exercise and a great experience. I have to give a talk at CPA this June on a topic I know nothing about so it was good to practice with a topic I know a lot about. The rest of the day was spent in poster sessions and talks given by Gord and Nick. My own poster session was that evening, and was probably the highlight of my whole weekend. I was able to chat with the grad student whose research spurred our own research, as well as one of the co-chairs of the ADAA committee for public education, and one of my personal research heroes who I refuse to name-drop in case he googles himself (as all good researchers do). Turns out Nick brought him onto one of our grants though so I’m hopeful for future run-ins! After a lab dinner at Mexican restaurant Cozymel’s, and a good solid sleep despite the tequila, Michelle and I and 90% of the Regina crew returned home on Sunday.

Since then I’ve been counting down the weeks until my internship is over (only one to go!). I’ll have to blog about my internship at some point, but it’s been really wonderful and I feel way more prepared than I did four months ago. I’m also attempting to wrap up my thesis and planning all the fun trips in my immediate future! Here is what we’ll be up to this summer:

  • Mumford and Sons concert on my birthday with Jordan and my family!
  • Two weeks in Quebec for the CPA conference and a much-needed holiday with Jordan
  • My thesis defense at some point before July, followed by copious wine
  • Tony and Shannon’s wedding in Grande Prairie at the end of July (as well as visiting with my girlfriends, one of whom just got engaged!)
  • Nick and Amber’s wedding the first weekend in August
  • A visit from Jordan’s parents in August

It will be so busy but I’m looking forward to all of it. We will have lots to blog about, and hopefully more time with which to blog.

Sam

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A Very Long Time, We Know!

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Spring! (almost)

Wow. Has it really been three months?

We got all moved into our new place in early January. It looks a little more lived-in now compared to those move-in pictures from the last post! If you want to see more then check out this photostream of our place. Please ignore the mess, as we are in the middle of our weekend clean-sweep! It’s a bit bigger than the old apartment but we are slowly collecting furniture to fill it. Thanks to Sam’s parents we have a guest bed, and Sam has taken it upon herself to fill the walls with pictures. It’s will be a nice place to be in the spring – very close to the park and Wascana lake. The past couple of days we have actually seen a little bit of spring beginning to appear – at Easter!

Sam is nearing the end of her very first psychology internship. She was lucky to find a fantastic member of the staff who took an interest in supervising her. It’s been an excellent experience but she’s also looking forward to coming back to the University full-time in the summer. Pretty soon she’ll be finished her thesis and on to PhD work! She has also tackled a lot of extra stuff this semester, like organizing the graduate student research conference and banquet. She’s been busy!

I am finishing yet another semester of undergrad (and not the last!). I have a position (a research award) lined up for the summer through Sam’s supervisor and a member of my own department. We are hoping that we can turn it into a thesis for my master’s next year – which would be a M.Sc. and not a M.Eng. like I was talking about last year. I’m leaning this way since he seems to be a really great fit for me as a supervisor. I also gave my first talk at my department’s research colloquium. I talked about fault tolerance in probabilistic multiagent systems. It went well and I was lucky to have a faculty member show up who is a recognized expert in this type of stuff. After my presentation he introduced himself and we are going to discuss publishing on the topic together. Sam had better watch out or I’ll catch up to her h-index sooner than she thinks!

Marilyn is also doing very well. She is doing a lot of work with purring and being crazy these days. Our new place has shelves to sit on and a hollow place where she hides and pretends to hunt us as we go down the hallway.

Jordan

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furniture!

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Moving house!

What a ridiculous month we’ve had. The person in the suite next to us has BEDBUGS. They are being treated for them every couple weeks (we’ve seen everything from mattresses to vacuum cleaners in the garbage bin outside) and I’m sure their lives are not fun. Fortunately, we’ve been inspected twice and nary a bedbug was found. Unfortunately for us, Boardwalk has very strong prevention policy. To have a prevention treatment, we had to pull all our furniture away from the walls, including the storage room, so that they can rip off the baseboards. All our books/knick-knacks needed to go in boxes/bags. The couch had to be tipped over and the mattress/box spring taken off the bed. All our linens and clothes are supposed to be dry cleaned and then stored in bags, but they didn’t help pay for that, so we skipped that step. AND they discovered the cat and demanded a $250 pet deposit. WHAT A HASSLE. Anyways, despite all the bedbugs in our neighbor’s apartment being dead, and despite the fact that we don’t have bedbugs and our prevention spray is supposed to last a minimum of 3 weeks, they’re making us go through at least two more sprays or face eviction.

So on that lovely note, Jordan and I started up the semi-monthly look for alternative living arrangements. Except this time… we found a place!

From the living room, looking into the kitchen and hall.

We’re moving across Wascana Lake to a house on Douglas Ave. We’ll be renting the upper level of the house, which has 900 square feet, 3 bedrooms, a dishwasher, a covered garage, a deck & back yard… we share a washing machine and a common area room with a future downstairs tenant (it’s empty right now). The house is incredibly bright and spacious, and feels in some ways bigger than our current apartment despite the fact we’re downsizing a little. The bathroom is the only very noticeable downsize but it has PLUG INS! Jordan doesn’t understand how exciting this is for me.

Generally speaking, this move will decrease our convenient access to the university but will do wonders for our mental health. Next semester will be a bit of a song and dance since I am working downtown for my internship and we only have one car. If Jordan gets tired of going to school early, though, there is a super convenient bus stop immediately outside our house! After next semester, we’ll both be on campus for 90% of our lives – particularly if Jordan gets into grad school for a January 2013 start date. Plus apparently we are eligible for carpooling parking…

Pretty blue bathroom walls. Look at the PLUG INS!!

The South-facing kitchen window and THE DISHWASHER.

So the next month and a half will be incredibly busy for both of us. We leave for holidays on Dec. 19th (can’t wait!!!) and come back on Jan. 3rd. Jordan starts his 4th and last year on January 7th, and I’m starting my clinical internship at Regina Mental Health that week as well (eek!). The weekend of the 4th we’ll be doing a walk-through of our new place, moving most of our furniture and belongings to the house, and introducing poor Marilyn to the new house. She’s been such a champ this month with being spayed, getting vaccines, and staying at a kennel during the bedbug fiasco, so I think she’ll be okay at the new house. We’ll have a month of overlap where we’ll be renting both places, which is kind of a bummer but at least we’ll be able to take our time moving our things and cleaning the Boardwalk place. And then… housewarming party!

Ten sleeps until Christmas holidays! I hope December is winding down nicely for everybody and you get the chance to have a relaxing holiday season. Much love from the three of us!

Sam

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Long Time No Blog!

Hi strangers! I know, I know, it’s been a while since I blogged. This semester has been completely crazy. Midterms went well but I’m pulling many 12-hour days just to keep my head above water. Next weekend is a long weekend so that will be nice! Sam’s been running participants for her study and is getting very close to her target number!

We are still finding time here and there to keep up with our ongoing mission to see the city. A few weeks ago we went to the Regina Floral Conservatory. We learned that they change the plants about every six weeks and it was all set up with pumpkins and lots of pepper plants when we went. It’s an all-volunteer effort and they do some amazing work. We saw lots of neat cacti, including one called the old-man cactus which was wearing a sombrero.

The weather has been getting pretty chilly and I have no doubt that they will be stocking up on poinsettias soon. Sam is in full Christmas mode. After Halloween, she wasted no time buying a Christmas tree. We tried to get Marilyn to be a tree topper but she declined. With our flights home booked, we are certainly holding out for Christmas!

-Jordan

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Thanksgiving Weekend – art and turkey

I love Thanksgiving weekend – so much good food and the weather is so perfect – and this year mine was made extra long by a trip to Edmonton. My mom had an art exhibition opening this weekend in Edmonton, as part of a series called Passages. The opening was on Saturday, so her and I made a weekend of it! I left Regina on Friday (really ridiculously early) and was in town by 9:30 am. Mom joined me shortly after. After checking in at the hotel we headed out to the West Edmonton Mall for some much-needed shopping! Regina just doesn’t have the stores I’m used to, and I obliterated Forever21. I could have done much more damage than I did, to be fair, but it’s hard for me to say no to corgi sweaters and tacky earrings. Friday evening, Trevor met us for a lovely dinner at the Wildflower Grill, a big favorite of my family’s. I had camembert and a tomato/mozzerella salad, and helped mom with her raspberry cheesecake for dessert.

Saturday was the big day! We started it out right by visiting my favorite part of Edmonton, the Glenora Bistro for breakfast and the High Street shopping area. When I lived in Edmonton my apartment was only a couple blocks away, and I spent a lot of my time at the Starbucks there. There’s a cute paper store called Notables, a consignment store where I found a new coat, and a kitchen store with the best Christmas presents. We also saw a big fat cat that looked like a cross between Marilyn and Zola (my newest kitty friend).

Finally it was time for the art opening! The gallery was very well set up and there was lots of room for mom’s art and the two other exhibitions. Mom’s pieces were on the first wall you saw when you came down the stairs, so they were very striking. One of the other artists, one of mom’s friends, was also there for the opening. Her piece was a giant scarf with one stitch for each minute in a year. Quite a few strangers came through as well, and lots stopped for a chat. One of the ladies who stopped to talk to us was actually involved with REACH Edmonton, whom I volunteered with for two years, and knew all the people I’d worked for. My friend Maura came out for the opening – it was so so nice to see her, it’s been almost a year and a half! – and Trevor came too. I was so glad we were able to go – we had a great time with mom! We celebrated with a sushi binge at Mikado, and then (after we’d made some room) dessert at the Wildflower.

Mom and I flew out Sunday afternoon. We took our time getting ready in the morning, having breakfast and a starbucks at the hotel, and then (luggage in tow) set out on the LRT for the Southgate Mall for some last minute shopping. After a lunch at Chili’s out at the airport, we were on our separate ways home! It was a very fast but incredibly fun weekend. Hopefully our next “girls’ art weekend” will be at an international exhibition… :)

It’s always nice to come home to Jordan and Marilyn. Jordan picked me up from the airport and took me to Boston Pizza for dinner, and then out to see Looper. What a good movie! I mean, we poked some major holes in the plot (corroborated by the internet afterwards), but it was still a thoughtful, intelligent movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt had a CGI mask in the movie to more closely resemble Bruce Willis and it was very well done.

Monday was turkey day!! This year we used Jordan’s grandma Liz’ stuffing recipe and it was delicious. This is also a notable year in that I neither a) washed the turkey; b) broke any pyrex; or c) bled on anything. As the cherry on the cake, the turkey was perfectly cooked through and beautiful to carve. What a feast! I’m not exactly a paragon of housewivery but I think I am now comfortable having guests for turkey dinner. Maybe next year we’ll have to make a bigger deal of it.

With all that’s going on at school and all the stress of the daily grind, it’s lovely to have a weekend to see loved ones and eat good food (my two favorite pasttimes). I hope you all had a lovely thanksgiving and are feeling mentally prepared for the chilly months to come.

Love Sam & her little family of turkeys.

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“I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.”

A view of campus across Wascana Lake

Well hello! Every time my turn to write coincides with school starting up again, the blog grows dusty and neglected. Jordan and I have become very, very busy with the new school year. Jordan is taking five classes and (as the darling of the department) has been given research opportunities to fill his “spare time.” For the first time in 18 years I am not taking any classes, but I have a full schedule of funding and grant applications, screening & running participants for my horror movie study, and going to seminars. I don’t have the same ho-hum outlook on life as J. Alfred Prufrock (narrator of the blog post title), but I think we share a commonality in the amount of coffee it takes to keep up daily energy.

I think I’ll announce it as autumn in Regina! Hurray! Time for sweaters and boots and Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes (I die) and obscenely-priced purses (my visa dies). Is there anything as romantic as autumn? I suppose some Antipodian Grandpas I know are just entering spring, but for now I’ve fooled myself into thinking I have the good end of the stick. Jordan is thrilled that our car is no longer “hotter than the sun” (i.e., 30C).

Because I’ve been so delinquent on the blog, I have some pictures from the Dragonboat Festival a couple weekends ago that I haven’t shared with you yet. It was a lovely day for dragonboat races and lots of Reginians turned up at Wascana Lake to watch. I’d never seen a dragonboat; in my head, they were a lot bigger… and shaped more like dragons, haha! At one point the announcer called out “Ironically, we are missing the team No-Show Boaters… please go to your boat if you are here…”

In cat news, Marilyn is bonkers and keeps us very entertained. She answers only to the name “shhhh” and yells at us from dawn to dusk. The internet suggested a dab of vaseline every night to cure hairballs, and she has taken to that enthusiastically – petroleum makes such a tasty snack! She spends most of her time mountain climbing in my closet or sitting on Jordan’s lap in the office, helping him with his homework.

Sorry for the much delayed update… Now that we’re back into a bit of a routine, hopefully there won’t be any more (Sam-induced) slacking. If you have some time, go see my mom’s new blog post about her finished MFA pieces… and then come hang out in Edmonton with us in two weeks to see her exhibition :)

Sam

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Staycation, all I ever wanted!

This week, Marilyn and I are living the dream. I finished my last day of work on Monday and, because the pay period ended early, I have the next eight days to relax before classes start again.

I’m going to miss the people I got to work with this summer.  In the end, I don’t regret taking their offer. They are a great bunch and I really enjoyed working along side them. They wanted me to stay on part-time during the semester but I would rather leave that stress at the door and focus on my courses.

When I went back to school about, oh, 30 years ago, I started in immunology with the intention of applying to medical school. Medicine has always really interested me and I think it’s a great pursuit for people who are really focused on that career path. I eventually changed majors to computer science because I knew that it would be easier to get a higher GPA since it holds my attention much better. After three years it’s time for me to “shit or get off the pot”, as a man very dear to me used to say. If I’m going to be a doctor (a real doctor, Sam) then very soon I will need to write the MCAT and register for courses like organic chemistry (again) and physics which are required for application to medicine.

Long story short, I’ve been thinking about becoming a software engineer instead of going down the medicine route. This would mean finishing my honours degree in science (B.Sc.) and then going into a masters degree in engineering (M.Eng.). From there, I would gain experience and write board exams to get licensed as a professional engineer (P.Eng.). Then I would be what Sam calls a “meng peng”. I’ve met with a professor in engineering who has all but accepted me, so it will be a heck of a lot less challenging than getting into medicine.

In other news, Marilyn successfully endured her first trip to the V-E-T. You can see her terrified face pictured below. The doctor gave her a clean bill of health, aside from some anxiety.

Last week, Sam and I went to Regina beach. It’s a little community about half an hour north of Regina. Sam says that it has a very BC-esque vibe with lots of outdoor vendors and little shops. The lake itself is pretty small but we managed to enjoy some boat-watching and some August sun.

Jordan

Kitty at the vet

The water

The beach

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One year

A year ago today, the two of us drove into Regina for the first time. What a lot we’ve accomplished in the time we’ve been here! Although we’ve been fully engaged in our individual academic pursuits, we have managed to explore every corner of Regina and it’s safe to say we’ve fallen in love with the city. It’s hard not to love something that is so beautiful year round!

Thanks to our readers for keeping up with us for the last year. It’s always lovely to hear back from you whether on facebook or through comments on our posts. Keep checking in – there are many more blog posts to come in the year ahead! :)

Sam & Jordan

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August Visitors

Good morning from Regina! I have been up since 4 am and completely unable to sleep. Love those nights. Fortunately I haven’t been on my own – two weeks ago we adopted a kitty named Marilyn, who has been keeping me company this morning! Meet Marilyn, everybody:

Marilyn spent the first week cooing like a pigeon, so we have nicknamed her “Prue”

Marilyn is a 5 year old, declawed, medium-haired terror who hates babies. The latter point is what caused her to need a new home. After we brought her home she firmly ensconced herself behind the entertainment center and then, after another sleepless night on my part, under the couch in the office. She’s emerged gradually since then and is comfortable with all parts of the apartment except the fridge, which remains inexplicably terrifying. She came to us in heat (lovely), and has since settled into an apathetic, schizophrenic routine of sleeping and attacking the curtains.

Among the visitors Marilyn has had are my parents, who visited from Tuesday to Friday last week. It was so nice to have them here in the summer – it was pretty snowy and glum last time they came! As always, their visit contained a lot of good food, laughter, and stories. We made them dinner the first night, and then went to a restaurant called the Willow on Wascana the second night for an amazing three-hour meal. I think I liked it better than any restaurant we’ve been to in Regina! They have a lovely patio for summer sunshine, and an intimate indoor setting where we sat. Despite being a little short-staffed and chaotic, the service was entertaining and genuine. And the food – yum – bison and quinoa and everything seasoned perfectly. We will definitely be visiting again! To wrap up a foodie week, we had Thursday lunch at the Cathedral Village Freehouse (previously featured on this blog) and then a beer-cheese fondue for dinner back at the apartment. I swear I put on ten pounds every time I’m in my parents’ vicinity… there are worse things in life! :)

Watching geese at Wascana Lake

In between eating, I took my parents out to Lumsden for coffee and shopping. The valley is green but the fields are yellowing – summer is coming to an end. We also managed to poke around Cornwall Mall, the parliament building and gardens, the Mackenzie Art Gallery, and (finally!) Crocus & Ivy. Dad was very patient with our shopping and I kept him in beer to compensate. I am a diehard Olympics fan and managed to watch a decent amount of the games as well.

It’s always sad to say goodbye to my parents, especially since this is the first summer I’ve been away from them, but there are many visits planned in the upcoming months. Mom and I are having an October holiday together in Edmonton for her gallery opening, and Jordan and I have our Christmas flights booked. Marilyn won’t be attending either event, though we have not told her this yet.

Sam

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