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relaxed, family, happy

Summer migrations

Back from Banff, and the collective agreement passed the member vote on Monday — life is pretty good right now!

Banff was a really fun adventure — time with Heather, Andrea, Morgen and Oscar; seeing some glaciers; hiking every day; no major logistical bumps! Oscar had lots of questions and observations about air travel and (surprisingly to me) declared his favourite adventures to be the hot springs. I think he liked the ritual — hot, cold, ramps, taps… and maybe the fact that the Nordik here is 16+ so he got to do an older teenager thing. The hot springs we visited were very different from the Nordik, though: run by Parks Canada, only slightly more expensive than bus fare, and lots of families and middle-class-looking people, and also several languages being spoken around us. Both at Radium Springs and at Banff. Might be a Western thing and it was refreshing.

I'm back at work for another couple of days and then back into the woods to revel with the ecumenical pagans… I've been roped into helping out with a ritual, and we're starting to plan a small communal camp kitchen. I'm looking forward to more down time before a busy fall of continuing to learn my new business line and continuing union stuff. I was thinking of trying to organize a little workshop for organizer types to drink mead, swap tips and share stories, good and bad… but maybe next year, or maybe just informally in the time I might have been ill-advisedly participating in foam sword duels… and if I just relax and ritualize, that will be fine too.

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Adventures and learning

Today is the day Oscar and I head out for Banff! I feel a little under-packed but I think it's that we're not camping… we'll be staying and going on adventures around the area with Heather, Andrea and Morgen for nearly a week. It's my first time in Banff and first vacation with H&A, and Oscar's first time out of the time zone or travelling by plane.

I've been busy lately: we negotiated a tentative agreement for research employees in the core federal public service and now members are voting. I did my but for the ratification campaign with a seminar and talking it up around the office. Odds are very good we'll have a better-than-inflation pay bump, some new rights, and a contract until 2022!

Adapting to the new position is feeling a little long… I'm still trying to hold the fort a little on some of my old duties as my replacement there is due to arrive around Christmas. The ways of doing things in the new division are pretty different, too… I know feeling competent takes a while but it's hard. I'm good at many things, but by unit's business is taking a lot of learning and I find myself trying to pepper my weeks with some of the things I am good at — holding the fort on my old work, Positive Space, union stuff… Anyhow, I have some downtime now and will come back to some routine tasks of my new unit that I'll be able to help take care of. I'm hoping a little basic stuff will help me get my feet under me. The learning will continue!

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May flowers

It's a nice day today, we've got plans to hit the annual opening party for our neighborhood garden box project. Vivien has somehow managed to lose her bike helmet, which is a big hit to our family mobility. I've been wandering around looking for it to no avail.

I got that promotion… true to form this was the time I had figured it wasn't going to happen and that I should just plan for another couple of years in my old post. The new team (I'm leading a team of six) seems like a nice one and I've got a good 2IC who knows the work very well. I've got a lot of the subject-independent skills and I probably know more of the statistical nuts and bolts than I feel like I do now. I'm going to a new office on a floor with the open "2.0" plan; so far I think it'll work out okay.

I went on TV on TV and talked about polyamory and how I do it… you can only pack so much into 22 minutes or whatever, and I was on (in the second half) with a counsellor who had her views and a program to promote, but I think I did okay for my first time on live TV.

Next week is going to involve a lot of bargaining… once an election writ is dropped we have to wait until the next Parliament is good and settled before negotiating again… probably 2020. But we'll be working hard (and staying late) to get it done.

We're starting to plan the summer a bit — Elizabeth is making musical plans, we've signed the older kids up for a week of climbing camp, we'll probably festival with the pagans a couple of times… and in what I hope is the start of a series of adventures with individual kids, I'm going with Oscar to visit Heather, Andrea and Morgen in Banff for a week in July: his first passenger air experience and sight of what Albertans call real mountains :) I'm pretty excited and hour it will be wonderful bonding and relaxing time.

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I can see green grass here and there now, and my cycle commuting is back on track after a snow-related interruption earlier this week.

I've had some good news lately… the post-vasectomy test results came back all clear, and the promotion process I started in the fall has declared me qualified to gain a level — with any luck I can continue working on similar stuff to now but training and managing some help, but that's for management to decide.

I was slated to do some teaching internationally somewhere in the Caribbean (for learners from across the Caribbean) but the project has been bumped over to more senior people. Which is mostly a blessing because I have plenty going on, and it got bumped from February when going somewhere hot sounds appealing, to June, when 40 degrees happens. It stings a bit to be pulled but it's for the best.

I did get to teach locally, though — a Positive Space training with a new set of materials and approach I developed with Deirdre. I think it went quite well, and it qualifies more volunteers at StatCan and Health Canada to do listening and referral.

Elizabeth has been really busy with music — open mics, house shows, a show in Wakefield coming up… it's nice to have that heating up after a long fall but it has been an adjustment in terms of time and energy available for her and me. We're off to an afternoon open mic today with the kids… it's been a while since we've had kids take in her music in a venue. I hope they'll let her do her thing, cheer at the end and munch on fries during (rather than rush the stage)!

Next week I'm contract bargaining most of the week… I hope we make some good progress toward a solid agreement. I get to draft the bargaining updates. I'm learning a lot and think I'm making a difference.

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I biked to work yesterday and brought the kids to swimming on the big bike today… it's cold but the streets are clear enough. Part of the street-clearing by the city involved dumping huge chunks of ice on our front lawn and smashing a garden box. It was on the easement and hidden under a snowbank but it seemed gratuitous. Oscar was pretty full of rage last night when he found out.

I'm trying to streamline and delegate stuff at work… delegation is its own sort of work but I think I'm getting some of it done. Union concerns are ramping up with a perfect storm of performance talk season, new initiatives from management and bargaining.

Honestly I'm feeling a little overwhelmed today: beer bottling kind of took over the kitchen last night and a whole bunch of furniture is shuffled around for a house concert today. Our kitchen tap is acting a little flaky and there is a buck of work and life stress swirling around me. I hope things settle down soon. Maybe biking season will be good for my state of mind.

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politics, science

Mundane post

I had a dream about shopping for dress pants last night, in two parts (the trying on right before close! The buying later!) I found a hole yesterday in a pair of pants, so thanks, literal brain.

I'm back at work and also writing away at the current step in the promotion process. Looking at what I've been up to through a technical competencies lens and thinking that whether I get a promotion or not my involvements are due for a prune. Had a conversation with one of my career-knowledgeable friends who backed up this idea.

We had a late morning start at home and a discussion of daylight savings time over rushed breakfast this morning. The take-away the we could agree on came down to us being at the wrong latitude for all this (or maybe we should just go full Saskatchewan and go to UTC -4 year round).

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Optimistic post

I'm recovered pretty well from the vasectomy and feeling pretty much the same as before now. From what I can tell I got a shorter recovery period than some (although I didn't go rock climbing the next day like some people).

I'm also recovering from that kind of overwhelming fall/December in work, union and domestic stuff. I'm in no danger of running out of that, and we were briefly out an oven (but Elizabeth and Diane took apart the electronics, scrubbed them, or them back together and now we have a reprieve), but I'm sleeping better and feeling much less stressed. I've been kicking the tires of Woebot (kudos to the person who mentioned them in a recent private entry) for a little while and so far they seem earnest and more like a text adventure game than my best friend… but fun and full of reminders to take care of my brain.

I feel like the working and volunteering universe keeps throwing teaching opportunities in front of me; maybe that will be a theme for 2019. I'm re-learning R in order to learn some of its confidentiality features so I can teach my stuff in the context of a tool that the cool kids are using these days. I'm also looking forward to giving Positive Space volunteer training another crack having gotten some feedback on my first go around. I think I'd be very satisfied with doing these things well if I do!

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relaxed, family, happy

Hello 2019!

It's cold out there and I'm holding the fort having made cookies. Elizabeth will be bringing back the kids, JP, Leah and Esme from skating on the creek soon.

I'm not out skating partly because it's currently colder than Winnipeg out there,maybe TMI… followed by holiday stuff and the start to the yearCollapse )

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That scone recipe

These scones are rapidly becoming a go-to recipe for me. It's adapted from the Bon Appetit Cookbook (2006) edited by Barbara Fairchild — we have lavender around the house more than lemon zest and don't do blenders.

Easy Ginger-lavender scones

Preheat 400 F

Mix in largish bowl:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon lavender flowers, squished between fingers

Chunk up and blend in with a pastry blender until everything is a coarse meal:

2/3 cup unsalted butter, right out of the fridge


2/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Make a well in the center and add:

3/4 cup whipping cream

Blend with fingers until cream is mixed in (there will probably be some flour kicking around still).

Divide into halves (for normal-sized advices) or thirds (for mini scones), knead each part 8 turns or so, squash into a disc and cut in 6 wedges.

Bake around 18 minutes until lightly brown, then transfer immediately to a tin. They reheat nicely at 350 F for 10 minutes the next day.

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politics, science

Sprint upon sprint

I'm run pretty ragged lately… the constellation of stuff around work is exciting and chaotic.

I attended my union's annual general meeting a couple of weekends back and may have gotten a little famous for questioning the exaggerated bar graphs in our electronic voting system. I also had a chance to meet some neat people, speak on the Professionals Canada question that was in the news lately, and vote on things of substance and things deep down the procedural rabbit hole. It was enlightening, sometimes maddening, and worthwhile.

Last week I did even more standing up and speaking in front of people — I chaired one AGM and delivered the Treasurer's report and ran the elections in another. At the end of the week a bunch of scrambling around resulted in a good talk on statistics on gender under the Positive Space umbrella.

I was fairly convinced that something was going to go down in flames last week, and it didn't! Between good help and my grinding away at managing things, we got things done.

This weekend marked 14 years of Elizabeth and me kissing. Heather and Andrea took charge of the kids and we got to go treat ourselves to the nearby spa — baths and saunas and tasty food in among the carefully placed oaks and rocks :) The kids got to go sliding (Morgen got to slide while snoozing on Andrea… that totally counts) and drink hot chocolate, so they were only a little jealous.

I'm starting this week with delivering a pilot Positive Space orientation and then heading off to bargain for three days. In December I'm teaching the record linkage course for the last time, then a first teaching experience on data access and confidentiality in my new portfolio. Somewhere in there I put my name in for a promotion — the process is a little different each time and this one feels a little more streamlined than recent ones. I'm looking forward to things settling down a little before Christmas is really upon us. I suspect it won't, completely, but I think the most intense parts are behind me for now.

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