The title pretty much sums it up, so I won’t waste word-space. This will be my last blog post of 2018. I hope you all have a very lovely Christmas and I will see you all in the New Year.
I may just begin next year’s posts by telling you all the story of the Christmas Angel. Is there such thing as Got-The-Best-Present-At-The-Christmas-Gift-Exchange-Because-Someone-Else-Made-A-Terrible-Mistake-And-Ended-Up-With-The-Crappiest-One guilt? Kinda like survivor’s guilt, but nobody dies?
Anyway, see you all later, and to paraphrase Killian “Hook” Jones, it is unwise to insult the size of a woman’s Christmas tree.
First of all, supper today was dragonfruit with a greater than normal allowance of chocolate sauce, so I apologize if this post seems like it was typed by a caffeinated squirrel.
Now to my main point. I have a confession to make. I enjoy writing these blog posts, I really do. But my first love is writing novels. In fact, that’s why I have a blog in the first place. To help spread awareness of my currently nonexistent (or at least nascent) novels and/or short stories.
Now to my main point. I have a confession to make. I enjoy writing these blog posts, I really do. But my first love is writing novels. In fact, that’s why I have a blog in the first place. To help spread awareness of my currently nonexistent (or at least nascent) novels and/or short stories.
But just to help, you understand. This isn’t going to become one of those “writer blogs” whose primary purpose is to sell the author’s books about writing, and courses about writing.
And oh yes, maybe the novels they’ve written too. You know, the reason they got into all this in the first place. I don’t want that to be me.
Still, sharing a bit about my writing journey seems like an appropriately bloggy thing to do, and it’s one of the things I feel like I could write about ad nauseum.
Also, unlike my folklore posts, it doesn’t even require any research!
I know, I know. Library people are supposed to be all about research. And yes, I do like…Well, I do research. When I have to. Or when there’s something I want to know. I suppose I have a bit of a hangover from all the obligatory research I had to do at school.
So the point is, occassionally I will post an update on my projects. I thought initially it was going to be in addition to the other posts I do (roughly) once a week. So then I would end up posting once or twice a week.
But let’s get real. This is me. The person who puts off doing the dishes until the sink starts getting colonized by one or more species of invertebrates and/or bacteria (sorry Mom). Or until I run out of spoons.
Chocolate sauce is totally a food group.
So I have two projects on the go right now (not counting the short story I’ve been putting off finishing because then I’ll actually have to do something with it.)
One of them, the dominant one, is based off of an unused segment of a novel that I loved but didn’t fit and then got rewritten into oblivion. It’s about a young widow who believes she is cursed by the same sort of boogeyman that caused a horrible happening (I haven’t decided what yet) long ago in her town.
She’s actually part elf or something (again, haven’t decided) whereas what happened was caused by something else, but people in the town sort of lumped everything together. And now everyone hates anything that isn’t human.
So one day this stranger rolls into town, and she recognizes that he is like her. But so does the town. And so does the actual boogeyman. Chaos ensues.
And obviously they fall in love.
Her name is Gwendolyn Fairfaith, and his is Killian (something that doesn’t start with J).
I feel like this has gone on long enough, so I’ll leave project 2 for the next installment. Stay tuned!
I feel like I’ve spent enough time on the creatures that terrorize America and Australia. Now for something a little closer to home: Library Gnomes.
These creatures are very similar to the British domestic Hobgoblin, with the main difference being that they only inhabit libraries.
I suspect that they are endemic to most of the Western world, although I have only been direct witness to their activities in the libraries of North America.
They are generally described as small, hairy people, with clothing made out of discarded book jackets. I can’t imagine these are very comfortable, so perhaps this accounts for their demeanor. Having tails and bright eyes, they are sometimes mistaken for library cats such as the famed Dewey Readmore Books.
Library Gnomes are rarely seen, but library staff sometimes catch a glimpse of them when checking for lingering library patrons at closing time. Seeing one is a sure sign that closing is not going to go well.
Typically, these closing mishaps involve technology. Many students work late at the library on papers, which they then need to either print off or submit electronically at the last possible minute before closing. Library Gnomes are particularly fond of breaking printers so that closing is delayed.
When they are in a better mood, they merely break one of them so that there is a longer line at the working printer. However, if they are in a particularly bad mood they will break both printers at once, so that all the students will have to either try the printer at the other library, or turn their paper in late.
In extreme cases, especially malevolent Library Gnomes have been known to punish students who wait until the last possible moment to electronically submit their assignments by permanently deleting their term papers. They also only ever do this outside of IT office hours, so that help cannot arrive in time.
How Library Gnomes became so tech-savvy is not known. One might suspect some kind of witchcraft, but then it is also possible that the Library Gnomes read library materials as well as destroying them.
Other mischief attributed to the Library Gnomes include stealing student’s library cards and using them to check out laptops, which are then presumably either broken or sold on Craigslist. I have personally been witness to more than one student who had a laptop or a book on their account they had no memory of checking out, so it seems the Gnomes are growing fond of this pernicious form of mischief.
On rare occasions the Gnomes directly interfere with library staff, but this is usually relatively minor, such as eating all the jelly-filled Timbits in the staff lounge, or leaving inexplicable crumbs on people’s desks.
Some library staff believe this is because the Gnomes know that the staff already have enough to deal with, but given the plight of the modern student I suspect not.
The origins of the Library Gnome are unknown. Some believe that the Library Gnomes were once benevolent creatures, pointing to the sudden return of long-lost library books as evidence of some shred of continued good will as evidence. On the other hand, it is not known whether the Gnomes were responsible for the books going missing in the first place, so this theory is considered suspect.
Others believe that Library Gnomes are the work of the same evil forces who are responsible for exorbitant textbook prices and unreasonable database license agreements.
Whatever their origins, for better or worse (probably worse) these perfidious little monsters are here to stay. But never fear, it is well known that the best way to keep the Library Gnomes at bay is to return library materials on time, and never lie to library staff to avoid paying fines (the Library Gnomes know when you are telling the truth.)
Well, folks, I have a special treat for you today. I have secured an interview with a creature of folklore: the Jackalope. What follows is an accurate description of our encounter, except where I have embellished to add interest.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I claimed that the interview questions I used were submitted by my readers in order to avoid personal injury, as some of the questions are quite sensitive in nature and the Jackalope is known to have an irascible temperament.
I arranged the meeting to take place in a neutral location, the back garden of a friend’s house. This not only provided us with a quiet and relaxed setting, but also prevented any possible unpleasantness that might otherwise arise. Like extra dishwashing, or the Jackalope learning where I live.
He was large, for a rabbit, about the size of an average labrador. His fur had come in thick and glossy against the coming winter, and of an attractive color: light tan darkening to an orangy brown on the shoulders and the back of his large ears. As the legend suggests, he also boasted a set of impressive antlers. Six points on one side, and five on the other. One had apparently been broken off in some mishap. The points were intimidating and looked as though they had been polished, if not actually sharpened.
Having hopped up on the lawn chair set up for our interview, he sat upright on his haunches with his forelimbs tucked against his chest, an incongruously bunny-like posture, compared with his relatively imposing stature.
I leaned back in my own, uncomfortable, lawn chair in what I hoped was a casual manner, and pulled out the notebook with the interview questions and a pen with which to record his responses.
“So, Mr. Jackalope,” I said.
“Just call me Jack.”
“Okay.” I had no intention of calling him Jack.
“You said there’d be whiskey.”
“Yes, so I did.”
Lacking hands he couldn’t actually hold the tumbler I gave to him, but he managed to grip it between his forepaws nonetheless. I was a little worried he would spill it all over himself when he tilted it back to take a sip, but he seemed confident.
“A lot of legends way that whiskey is a favorite of yours. Can you tell us how that became part of your myth?”
“I don’t know how these things get started. I do like whiskey, though. But I also like bourbon. And beer.”
“Do you prefer beer with hops?”
He stared at me for a few second before breaking out in a peal of raspy laughter. “That’s very offensive.”
The fact that he kept chuckling through the following monologue assured me that he was not, in fact, offended.
“You’re lucky I don’t believe in political correctness,” he said. “Some people these days can’t take a joke. That’s funny. Hops. But really, whether or not a beer has hops doesn’t matter, so long as all the flavors are in balance. It can’t go crazy and overwhelm all the other flavors. Balance, that’s the key. And it always tastes better from the tap than a bottle. Why does that make a difference? Can you tell me why that is? Why should it matter out of a tap or a bottle? But it does.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know. Getting back to the origins of your legend, some people say that the legend of the Jackalope is derived from sightings of rabbits infected with the Shope Papilloma virus, which sometimes results in the growth of tumours on the forehead.”
“If that’s true, people need to have their heads examined.”
“Don’t you mean their eyes?”
“That too. Someone seeing some poor deformed rabbit, and thinking it’s me– That’s just not reasonable.”
“What about the brothers Ralph and Douglas Herrick, who claimed that the legend came out of a clever bit of taxidermy they did?”
“It could be that happened, but my lot have been here long before them two. My Native American name is Manabozo.”
“So you’re endemic to North America?”
“Well no, actually my ancestors were the Wolpertingers from the Black Forest of Germany. Rather a fetching name, don’t you think? Like wolf-tiger.”
“I don’t think that’s what that means, but never mind. Beyond origins, there are a few other pieces of your mythology I wonder if you could shed light on.”
“Some people say that the milk of the female jackalope has magical healing properties. Is that true?”
He didn’t answer, but just tilted his head in a way that suggested a raised eyebrow, and something like a smile formed on his muzzle.
“Okay, we can move on from that. I’ve also heard that you can be quite dangerous. Some have suggested wearing stove pipes on the legs when traveling in jackalope country.”
“It would take a lot more than just stovepipes. I once cleared a twelve-foot wall. Stovepipes. Honestly.”
“Well, it seems that’s all the time we have for today. Thank you very much for coming.”
He nodded graciously. “You’re welcome.”
All the facts in this otherwise nonesensical bit of fiction are from: mythology.net/mythical-creatures/jackalope
Today’s journey into the world of folklore takes us to the swamps of Australia, to visit a creature even less physically consistent than our friend the Snallygaster. While the Snallygaster of Maryland (and other places) had a variety of guises, it always appeared in the manner of a winged bird-reptile thing.
No doubt the Bunyip, who has been described as anything from a giant starfish to a crocodile covered with feathers, would deem this lack of imagination terribly passe. It has been suggested that instead of describing a single beast, the term “bunyip” might simply be what one calls any number of large (usually) evil creatures who happen to live in the swamps of Australia.
Other theories include that the creature is too terrifying to allow for accurate recall, or that the bunyip was a prehistoric beast of some sort.
Now, despite how much our courts rely on them, eyewitness accounts are known to be terribly inaccurate. Still, the notion that the bunyip is so frightening that the human mind can’t process it clearly enough to remember what it looks like is, if not unlikely, then at least highly offensive to other terrifying creatures of folklore.
Many other creatures have habits (which we’ll get to in a minute) that are just as frightening as those of the bunyip, but most of them are described fairly completely. Why should the bunyip be so special? It has been suggested by some mythical beasts that this is just a cheap trick by the bunyip’s PR department, intended to boost its image without having to come up with a truly terrifying description.
The idea that the legends of the bunyip might have originated from cultural, or more recent, memories of prehistoric creatures could have some merit. It is certainly what the early European explorers hoped was the case, eager as they were (where ever they went) to find living examples of the bones they found and thus gain fame and prestige back home.
One more modern explanation is that the legend of the bunyip is derived from sightings of seals that wandered up river.
Which makes complete sense. I can totally see how you could mistake a seal for a feathered crocodile.
Now, as to the creature’s habits–which are only slightly less various than its physical description. As I’ve said, it is a swamp beast. And yes, Australia has swamps. It’s not all desert. Where do you think platypus’ live?
It is normally thought of as evil, and highly dangerous to humans. Some stories describe the bunyip killing its victims by hugging them to death.
Which might explain why no one knows what it looks like. If I was hugged to death by a giant starfish I don’t think I would remember the event clearly either.
Others paint a more nuanced view, with the bunyip as the frightening guardian of the Australian wilderness. A swamp Batman, if you will.
This disparity could easily be explained by differences in perspective. Or perhaps the bunyip is a moody creature, indiscriminately vicious one minute, and concerned about its home the next.
Either way, if you needed another reason not to visit the swamps of Australia at night, the bunyip certainly fits the bill.
Hello, and welcome to episode one of Alexis’ bestiary, the part of the show where I talk about some silly beast. Today, we’ll be discussing the Snallygaster.
The United States is home to a number of fearsome creatures, but few have a cooler name than the Snallygaster. Of course, as any quick google search will tell you, the creature’s first victims, German immigrants in what is now Maryland, called it the “schneller geist” or “quick ghost.”
Like many such creatures, the Snallygaster was a pain in the neck for farmers. It preyed on livestock, often sucking their blood like Mexico’s El Chupacabra (“goat sucker”). To this day you can still find some barns marked with the seven-pointed star, said to ward off the creature. Why seven? Beats me.
And to follow another tradition of folklore and crypto-creatures, the Snallygaster too had an annoying habit of changing its appearance, having no regard for consistency whatsoever. However it tended to stick to features between that of a bird and reptile, usually appearing as some sort of scaly flying thing.
It was fond of metallic weaponry, whether beak, teeth or claws. And sometimes tentacles.
Tentacles on a wingy thing? Why?
I can’t picture it either. Maybe something like prehensile catfish whiskers? But would those have been described as tentacles, or whiskers? Who knows.
For many years, however, not a peep was heard from the Snallygaster. Evidently it had retired, and decided to live in peace. Then in the early twentieth century, the Snallygaster was the victim of a terrible fake news campaign perpetuated by the Middleton Valley Register, a newspaper seeking to profit from the Snallygaster’s notoriety.
The editors of the newspaper told outlandish tales of the creature carrying off livestock, uttering train-whistle-like calls–(“It’s the Snallygaster Mom!” “No, it’s just the train.” “That’s what they sound like!”)–and laying barrel-sized eggs.
To add insult to injury, they even dragged the president into the mix, claiming that good ol’ Teddy Roosevelt was undertaking a venture to hunt the Snallygaster. And to add a thin veneer of credibility to the stories, they claimed that the Smithsonian was interested in studying the creature.
This went on for some time until, mercifully, the powers that be told the newspapers to knock it off, and charged the editors with fraud, thus allowing the maligned Snallygaster to recover the pieces of its tattered reputation and move on with its life.
A note on sources:
I got all this information from wikipedia, and other websites that appear on the first page of a “snallygaster” google search. In keeping with the haphazard nature of the oral tradition of folklore, and my intended audience, I’m not citing any of them.
But as a “library person” I encourage you to take the list of sources from the wikipedia article, or any of the others, to your local library person and see what they can do with it. Or do the research yourself, that works too. Or not.
Wow it’s been a long time since I’ve written on here. Of course, I didn’t have many readers to begin with, but still, to the three of you I’ve disappointed: I’m sorry, and I intend to do better.
To my main point, I’ve now been out in the world, left mostly to my own devices, for a year. I could say I have changed, but it would be more accurate to say that I have progressed along the journey of being the person I was already. Some of the results were unexpected, if only because of my naive optimism.
Any of you remember going into a semester with wildly unrealistic expectations of how this time things were going to be different, and how you’d be all organized and amazing? I did that pretty much every semester, even though I was always wrong.
But I didn’t realize that in all my daydreams about what it was going to be like when I moved out, I was doing the same thing. I’m learning that the only way to change is to do it slowly. One habit at a time.
That wasn’t easy to accept, given that I’d held onto my lovely illusions for so long. But I’ve made some good discoveries about myself too. I’m quite good at using The Box.
What box you ask?
Well, it’s where I keep the rat’s butt that I don’t give.
Handling difficulties has taught me this, I think. I’ve also gotten more confident in general, probably because of said challenges. I never used to believe it when people complimented me on something. Now instead of secretly doubting that person’s intelligence, I think something along the lines of “you’re dang right my earring are cool.”
But only if the compliment is for my earrings. Otherwise that would be weird.
Also, when I figure out something clever, like how to clean the gunk out of the plastic tube in my water bottle with some cotton yarn and a crochet hook, I consider it confirmation that I am as clever as I hoped rather than a fluke.
And when I’m not amazing at something, I am not as likely to consider it a reflection on me as a person. But I’m still getting better at this. The box helps.
I didn’t expect any of that. In some ways, however, this experience has exactly met my expectations, or exceeded them. Being financially independent (although not yet of my employer, but that will come eventually) is even more gratifying than I expected. The decisions I make involve more compromise and are more complicated than I’d hoped. But daydreams tend to simplify things, and compress time.
I expected to enjoy having my choice of music and entertainment, and I do. I didn’t expect to enjoy the freedom to yell stuff at the TV without bothering anyone, however, or to be able to pause it and walk away to cool off when I just can’teven anymore; I didn’t know I wanted to.
I also didn’t expect to take advantage of the freedom to watch or listen to things I suspect my parents wouldn’t approve of. Is that a good thing? Maybe.
I enjoy it, does that count?
So, it’s been a mixed experience. Apart from being difficult, to say the least, moving out also hasn’t magically transformed me into well…I guess a version of Snow White who always enjoys cleaning and mending things, and is artistic and stuff into the bargain.
Am I that sometimes? Sure. I always was.
But most of the time I’m the person who wants to do whatever she wants to do, and a lot of time what I want to do isn’t that productive. I’m working on that. In the meantime, hand me the box.
Signing off now, if I feel like it you’ll hear from me next Sunday.
So, I have returned from my expedition with photos to share and stories to tell. Not that many, the only thing that really went wrong was that I forgot my earbuds and pj’s.
I didn’t really want anything to go wrong, but those things do make for good stories. What with the miracle of Google Maps, which allowed me to not only avoid getting lost but pick the right fork in the path to come out of the forest precisely where I meant to, there really wasn’t much trouble I could get into.
Which is a good thing, because as I mentioned in Part 1, sort of, I’m really not into trouble. And I’m especially not interested in getting lost.
Seriously, I think close to 40% of my traumatic childhood memories could have been avoided if iPhone’s existed back then.
So I successfully managed to ride a bus to Vancouver and get myself to my AirBnb without winding up somewhere I didn’t want to go or getting kidnapped and murdered.
That’s the station where my bus arrived in Vancouver.
I noticed, among the other movies my host had available to watch, there was I Am Legend. As you know, I like zombies, but I decided I should wait until at least the next night to watch it, as the whole process of shipping myself across the province was freaky enough.
So instead I mainly watched TV. It’s an interesting experience after only having access to Netflix for months. No pause button. I actually had to choose between shows instead of saving one for later. And commercials, those were a rude shock (“What the barf is this garbage!? Give me back my show!”) But they do make for convenient bathroom/snack breaks.
Surprisingly I didn’t have a hard time sleeping in a strange place. I guess I’m used to being in a strange (but by now somewhat familiar) apartment and hearing weird noises that cause me to look towards the door suspiciously. These days the only noise that freaks me out is if I think someone may have knocked on my door.
And then I freeze, waiting for indications that it is time to lock myself in the bathroom and call the police.
So, same rules for this new apartment. No big deal. Pretty much everything is weird but nothing is actually life-threatening. Except if you leave the heat lamp in the bathroom on with the door open, then the lamp will light the door on fire and burn down the building.
Maybe that’s why the heat lamp in my own apartment doesn’t work?
Anyway, the next day I set off to circumnavigate Stanley Park, stopping off at a conveniently placed cafe for lunch (in this case a chai latte, and an eclair. That totally counts as lunch.) and culminating in a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium.
The chai tea latte was what one would call a life-affirming experience. It wasn’t the latte itself (although it was one of the best I’ve had) so much as drinking it in this amazing beautiful place. It just confirmed for me that if all my hard work and years of studenthood and nights of freaking out wondering what I was doing with my life- If all that led to my ability to come here and do this, obviously I made the right life-choices.
This is the view from the cafe.
I was quite tired when I got to the aquarium (the loop I decided to take is apparently about 11 miles), but I promised myself ice cream at some point and soldiered on.
And found MONKEYS!
Which is weird, for an aquarium, but they were part of the Amazon Rainforest exhibit.
In addition to monkeys also had caimans, piranhas, a variety of fish, and my favorite, the arapaima fish. They’re huge, and awesome. I didn’t get a picture because they were lurking spookily in the back where you could just see them through the gloom.
Google them, or ask Siri/your-preferred-virtual-assistant. I would do it for you but the best ones are copyright protected.
There were also a lot of human monkeys. And by that I mean screaming children. I’ve been to other busy aquariums before but– I don’t know if I’m becoming a curmudgeon or if there were just a lot of kids, because I don’t recall being annoyed by kids at my previous visits to aquariums. Granted, in all but one of those I actually was a kid, but still.
I never screamed when I was a kid in aquariums, is all I’m saying.
It may have also been low blood sugar, because boy did I need those concession stand fries. And I slathered them in tomato/vinegar syrup. Oooh boy.
I had only had a latte and a pastry for lunch, you see. And for breakfast, well, what happens in Vancouver stays in Vancouver.
Except for what doesn’t.
Like that lionfish, those jellyfish, and that pipefish.
So the ice cream did eventually happen as I trudged my sore feet back through downtown Vancouver. According to my iPhone I got aproximately 27,000 steps in that day. Or almost 19 km. And somehow managed to climb 13 flights of stairs. (I’m not gonna lie, I got lost in the aquarium looking for the way out. I think that’s where most of the stairs came from.)
That night, or maybe the next night (I don’t remember, and it doesn’t matter) I did watch I Am Legend. Bad idea? You’d think so, but it wasn’t. I enjoyed it. I slept fine.
I did spend part of the evening wondering if I really should go to the Capilano Suspension Bridge park the next day, or go for another jaunt through Stanley park. There were plenty of trails I hadn’t been on, and plus the route I planned involved figuring out how to use a water taxi, and the bus system. Which for some reason freaked me out more than the zombie movie, but whatever.
Then I went on my phone and found out that Capilano offers a free shuttle to itself. That settled it. I would go to the appointed spot and see if a shuttle bus materialized at the appointed time.
And after I spent about five minutes as a random person loitering around a hotel I wasn’t staying at, it did. Yay me! I figured out a thing. Awesome.
Capilano. Is. Amazing.
I don’t know where to begin, honestly. Google that too. I only have this one picture because the rest was videos and I don’t think wordpress will let me post those unless I give them money once a month.
Notice the infographic showing the bridge relative to Lady Liberty? Uh-huh.
The skywalks, the cliff thingee, the bridge itself. All of which are freakier than they seem in pictures. Especially the bridge.
That thing moves. A lot. Like a tipsy canoe or a trampoline. And some people … Some people are really not helpful in this regard. (“I’m trying not to die, here. Could you not?”)
Well, that was more the second time (you go across the bridge to get to the skywalk, and then back again to do the cliff thing, and get to the exit). The first time was more like me gripping the rails and going “This is why I live alone I hate people! Why didn’t anyone tell me this thing moves!” In my head, in case that wasn’t obvious.
As a side note there weren’t many screaming children, although somebody’s middle-aged aunt completely lost it in the middle of the bridge.
I heard the commotion, but didn’t stay to watch. I had a skywalk to get to.
It’s all amazing and terrifying. It helps (or doesn’t, depending on how you think about it) if you stop to have another chai latte at the cafe, just to get that caffeine buzz on top of the survival instincts.
Yes, in addition to all the other awesomeness, they also have a coffee shop. And a restaurant, and a gift shop where you can buy ridiculously overpriced things if you so choose. The coffee shop even has Bailey’s Hot Chocolate!
I was going to get one, but then I noticed it costs as much as I normally spend to feed myself in a day. (Roughly 6-10 dollars, calculated by my grocery bill for a month divided by the number of days.) The cute hat I almost bought was $76.
Almost is an overstatement though. I took one look at that price tag and went “Gross, I bet I could make something like this for twenty dollars or less.” And have yarn leftover.
One expects these tourist-traps at a tourist trap.
But it was amazing and beautiful and I loved it. And then it was time to leave.
The shuttle bus dropped me off downtown again, and I went to Sulmida Dessert Cafe for mid-afternoon … lunch? Sort of? Early supper? (I have to be back at the apartment before supper-time. Because zombies.) Anyway, it’s a cool Asian place with yummy food.
I got a Strawberry Lava Bread, which is basically enough sweet dough bread for four people with strawberry custard in the middle, two mounds of ice cream and one mound of whipped cream, sprinkled with fresh strawberry slices. And I ate all of it. And it was delicious.
There was also … I can’t remember what they called it. Milk snow? Anyway, a huge pile of snowcone stuff with sweetened condensed milk in it, with a variety of fruit or chocolate toppings. I wanted that but it was a bit chilly out, so I went with the bread.
This was on Denman Street, which has a lot of cool cafe’s and food places. Also some of the major mainstream ones (like McD’s etc) who try to fit in but stick out like office workers who showed up to a bluegrass festival in Halloween hippie costumes. And Starbucks, which somehow manages to just look like the coolest kid on the block, being all like “Hey, I was born not far from here.”
Thereafter things got much less interesting. More TV, then bed. I slept in, watched TV until check-out at noon, then took a cab to the station and waited there until my bus left at 2:20. Why did I do that instead of stopping for lunch at the Italian Chocolate Bistro like a normal person?
Because I thought it would be weird to call a cab from the cafe, and I didn’t want to deal with transit. That’s why. Next time though.
I thought I would end this writing about how it was amazing and everything, but maybe not worth the price tag without anyone else there to make it special. But after writing about and reliving all of that, I’m not sure it’s really true. I mean, someone going with me would be awesome, but it was worth it.
By the time this post is published, on Sunday, I will be well into my first solo vacation.
But as I write this, my full backpack is sitting on the floor somewhere, and a reminder is sitting on my phone, ready to go “ding” when it’s time for me to call a taxi and go to the bus station.
As you may have guessed, I’m spending the Easter long weekend in Vancouver. Although this isn’t necessarily the most devout thing one could do during Easter, the natural world has always provoked worship and wonder in me. Resurrection and ocean are my two favorite words.
So it seems fitting that I should visit the ocean and forests in and around Vancouver at this time of year. It certainly isn’t any less fitting than hunting around for chocolate eggs.
On Saturday, as I mentioned, I’ll be taking the bus from Smallville, where I live, to Vancouver. Even by bus it won’t be a bad trip. It’s only an hour longer than the drive from Metropolis, where I’ve lived most of my life up until now, and Gotham, where I was born. the scenery should be quite nice, and after all, I’ve got my new phone to entertain me.
To me honest, this trip was the triggering reason I got the phone in the first place. I knew I wanted a smartphone eventually, but smartphones are particularly useful in unfamiliar cities. If you get lost, or hungry in a strange city it is much more comfortable to be able to ask Siri for directions than a random stranger. For me at least.
I am adventurous, but I am a particular kind of adventurous. My temperament is somewhere between Anne of Green Gables (but not the gritty one from the TV series) and Lady Mary Crawley, if either of those people were excessively introverted. So basically, I like to spend time in the state to which I am accustomed, while trying to make friends with butterflies or contemplating the meaning of a unicorn emoji*. Human interaction is not necessarily part of that equation.
It wouldn’t be unwelcome, but it isn’t necessary.
After I get to Vancouver, I’ll unpack (translation: drop my backpack on the floor of my airbnb apartment), and go out in search of supplies. After that, I plan on spending the evening watching TV or scribbling in my notebook while appreciating the ocean view on the balcony.
Sunday I plan on hitting the Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park, and/or the seawall. I will have my sketchbook/notebook with me, and the camera on my phone. If the urge hits me I may scribble or doodle some things while I’m out and about, or if not (history says not) I’ll just take it all in.
I love fish (and other assorted water-dwelling things), and trees, and the ocean. It’s going to be fantastic. Next week I’ll show you pictures.
Monday I’m going to the Capilano suspension bridges. I encourage you to google it. It looks epic. Have I mentioned I love trees? This place looks like the closest earthly thing to the forests of Lothlorien. To get there, I’ll take a water taxi to North Vancouver, a small adventure in and of itself, and then a bus to Capilano Park.
Then on Monday, a scenic but nevertheless somewhat depressing bus ride back to Smallville.
It is very convenient having a four-day weekend in the same month that my income tax rebate cheque shows up. I may have to make a yearly thing of this.
*Really, what does it mean? When someone sends you a unicorn emoji, you know what they’re trying to get across. But you can’t explain it.
And by that I mean this is my review of the running app by the same name. Arguably, there are no real zombies, and the real zombies about which one could argue are not things one needs to run from.
I’ve only played one chapter of the app so far, but the prognosis is good.
For me, the main appeal of Zombies, Run is its combination of two of my recently-discovered interests: fitness, and zombies. Needless to say, if you don’t like either of those things, you won’t like this app. However, if you like fitness, but don’t like zombies, it could be a really great motivator. It stands to reason that people who are most afraid of zombies will run faster to get away from them.
Or rip out their earbuds and throw their phone away.
Regardless, its main function is motivation, and it works quite well. Scenes from the story are played to you like a radio show or audio book. You hear a scene, run for a bit to your own iTunes music (if you so choose), then hear the next scene, and so on, automatically collecting items along the way.
You can also turn on zombie attack mode, which increases interactivity, so that when the zombies in the story are chasing you, you will hear them and be told how close they are to you. If they catch you, you lose items. Some of which are really important to the story.
Now, this is motivating, but I found it somewhat less motivating than I thought it would be. Partly because I’m already quite familiar with the fictional undead. I’m just not that afraid of them anymore.
I mean, fine, running away from a horde of zombies makes sense. If you’re alone, trying to fight that many will just waste ammunition. But a one zombie, even one that’s “right behind you” isn’t that big of a deal. In a zombie apocalypse, that’s called a Tuesday.
You just turn around, wait until it gets within point-blank range, and then shoot it. Problem solved. Even the comic relief can do that.
But in this app, the solution is to “run faster.” Why don’t I get a gun? Other people get guns.
I don’t get a gun because it’s a running app, that’s why. Next time, I’ll have to save some energy for sprinting, and get in the mindset of someone in the zombie apocalypse who inexplicably doesn’t have a gun, or a knife, or a club, or a chainsaw, or a rock, or any other available object that could serve such a purpose.
Which is unlikely, in the zombie apocalypse. Or anywhere else for that matter.
I mean really, how hard is it to find a rock with which to smash a zombie’s head? I would prefer a gun, personally, but rocks work. I’ve seen it done dozens of times at least.
Still, it’s a very good app. It’s extremely customizable. You can use your own music, and even pick the specific iTunes playlist you want to use (*gasp* I must now make a zombie playlist!) You can tell it to track your speed and distance using your phone’s GPS for outdoor runs or using the step-counter for treadmills. Which I really like since the treadmill option fits better into my schedule.
But I do like running outside. Running outside is great. The scenery changes, there’s up and down, you can run around corners. Running downhill around corners is really fun. Even jump over park benches if you get adventurous (I didn’t do that.) Plus, you get to show off your snazzy new lululemon running tights, should you own such a thing.
And let’s get real, the point of owning excessively-expensive, nice-looking running tights is so that other people can see you looking all athletic in those running tights. In exercise, it’s all about motivation.
For example, according to my phone I walk about 4 km a day, what with walking to work and going for walks (my personal euphemism for playing Pokemon Go) during my lunch break. Today I logged almost 12 km. Taking into account the walking I did today, I would estimate my workout was responsible for 8 km of that. My usual treadmill workout is more like 3 km.
That’s not quite as impressive as it sounds, though. I alternate between walking and running, but that’s still pretty good.
Which reminds me, you can link the zombie app with the health app on your phone so you track stuff like that. Pretty cool, huh?
In summary, if you own an iPhone and even marginally like running or zombies, give it a try. Get in shape the fun way! By running away from zombies.
Oh yeah, and it’s free. That’s the best part. I like free.