I considered calling this post a two-word version of "my only visit to
Vancouver in 2010", but then I realized that I'd be attacked by a rabid
mob of angry international olympic organizationlawyer-weasels. Anyway,
read on to hear about my Canada trip from two weeks ago.
The flight from Glasgow to London was typical. That was the fifth time
I've done a 1-hour flight with British Airways, so I knew exactly what
it would be like.
My seat from London to Vancouver was upgraded from "world traveller" to
"world traveller plus" because they'd oversold the cheaper seats. This
gave me a slightly nicer chair, a toothbrush -- but also noise-canceling
headphones. Those made the flight incredibly much better. I don't know
if it would be worth buying the more expensive seats on their own,
though. I'm going to continue flying with the cheapest seats, but I'm
buying my own pair of noise-canceling headphones before having another
Vancouver was fantastic, as usual. I managed to meet almost everybody I
wanted to meet -- I missed two people. One was working in a law firm in
London, and the other was flying around BC training local tax workers
how to deal with HST. Unfortunately I was sick for the first few days
that I was there, but I recovered fairly quickly.
The first full week was spent at the usual West Coast Amateur Musician
Society summer music camp. I was concert-master of
the string orchestra playing the Elgar String Serenade, first violinist
in a quartet playing the first movement of the Dvorak American quartet,
and cello in a clarinet quartet op 1 by Rabl. (not a typo; he's a very
unknown composer. Very much in Brahms style)
In addition to music-making, the summer music camp was great for my
research. I saw the people that my educational music games were really
written for -- amateur adult musicians -- but I also just had the chance
to talk about my work. Lots of people were asking what I was doing, and
talked about it with me. Sure, maybe they were just making polite
conversation and feigning interest... but feigned interest is still
better than a complete lack of interest! I'm more fired up to work on my
research than I have been in the past year! :)
Victoria was Victoria. I saw my old research lab, caught up on the local
academic gosspic, etc. It was really interesting to get (briefly)
re-immersed in that atmosphere -- in the past few months, I've been in
contact with the NUS research group as well, so I'm pretty much
up-to-date on three "music technology" labs on three different
continents. It's surprising how different they are!
That said, as I type this, I'm realizing that they are on three
different continents, precisely separated around the globe by time zone
(8 hours each way). So maybe it's not surprising that there would be
huge differences between the labs, after all.
Trip back to Glasgow wasn't as nice as the way home. I went to the
airport via the new "Canada line", which was quite convenient, but was
boring. Too much tunnel.
At the airport, I noticed a Tim Hortons and eagerly went to get some
timbits. I'd forgotten to have some any earlier, and I've spent the past
year whining about the lack of timbits (and doughnuts in general) in
Glasgow. For better or worse, I seem to have identified timbits as the
distinctly Canadian food that I miss while abroad. (I'm sure that their
marketing department would be overjoyed with this post. :)
Anyway, in my eagerness to have the doughnuts, I forgot how much I
disliked their coffee (ok, maybe their marketing department wouldn't
be overjoyed). Also, I didn't spot a deal for half a dozen timbits
(which is what I remember from 10 years ago), so I got the 10-timbit
deal. That was a bit too much, so I began the flight feeling a bit
Oh, but before the flight, I got called on the PA system! Apparently if
you print a boarding pass from home and don't check any baggage, they
call you so that they can swipe your passport themselves. I guess that
makes sense from a security standpoint... but in that case, what's the
point of 24-hour early online checkins? Just to choose seats?!
Flight was distinctly meh. I saw toy story, toy story 2, and another
movie which escapes my memory at the moment. Oh wait, it was Alice in
Wonderland. It didn't leave much of an impression, other than wincing at
the clumsy attempts at romance between Alice and the Mad Hatter. And it
wasn't just the amount of time spent on it -- a great romance doesn't
need an hour to develop. One of the best love stories I've ever watched
was about 5 minutes long. This was just bad writing.
The flight landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule, but then we had to wait
for 15 minutes before they brought in some airplane taxis to move the
previous airplane that was occupying our gate. They weren't expecting us
there that early.
I wandered around in Heathrow in a bit of a daze, feeling lightheaded
and a bit dizzy. I spent about 10 minutes reflecting on how I was
unusually dehydrated from the flight, or had a problem with low blood
sugar or something... but then I remembered that it was about 7am
Vancouver time, and I hadn't slept at all, and that I was just
experiencing the usual "stayed up way past his bedtime" symptoms. (in my
defense, I'll remind you that a decrease of cognitive abilities is one
of the symptoms of being awake for a long time)
Final amusing note -- when the flight landed at Glasgow, the pilot
announced that it was 23 C, and almost all the passengers burst out
laughing. I think he must have heard us, because he quickly corrected it
to 15 C.
I felt a brief (and surprising!) burst of pride at the laughter, though.
Apparently even though I don't have any accent and still sometimes have
problems understanding the dialect, I've picked up the Glaswegian (or
Scottish in general? or maybe even British in general?) pride in having
Looking ahead, I have a few goals for non-academic life:
- Join at least one amateur orchestra. I don't know whether it would be
a community or student orchestra, but I definitely should start
making contacts with local amateur musicians.
- Join a club or something.
- Get into the habit of saying "aye" instead of "yeah" / "yup". I feel
incredibly self-conscious whenever I consider saying "aye".