I just remembered to upload the video I took of the take-off from Diefenbaker Int’l Airport here in Saskatoon.
So without further ado:
Archive for February, 2011
I just remembered to upload the video I took of the take-off from Diefenbaker Int’l Airport here in Saskatoon.
So without further ado:
This week I was away for two days to Edmonton and Grand Cache, Alberta. We flew from Saskatoon International Airport (John Diefenbaker Airport) to Edmonton International Airport on Wednesday, February 23 (Bran’s 51st birthday). Our flight left at a fairly decent hour (about 10:45) instead of the usual before dawn flights. We arrived about 5 minutes before we left. Yeah, we went from one time zone to another. We picked up our car rental right after. Because we’d be going to Grand Cache we got a 4 wheel drive vehicle, a fairly recent Jeep Grand Cherokee.
I have to say I liked it a lot. It was reasonably comfortable, and had a few fun bells and whistles. Unlike our Volvo it had cup holders. That might seem a trivial thing, but when you don’t have cup holders you can’t even pick up a cup of coffee to take to work because there’s no place to put the damned thing while you drive. Of course it was automatic (being a rental they don’t generally have manual transmissions). The radio had a large screen where you could see what you were listening to. It had a hard drive where songs were stored (a lot of Eminem, Tupoc and other rappers). There was also a CD player behind the screen but we didn’t figure out how to work it. Not having CDs helped us not worry about that. There were controls set into the back of the steering wheel. Every function of the radio can be safely accessed without removing one’s hands from the wheel.
There were other controls that personalize the driving experience that could be accessed from buttons on the front of the steering wheel. My co-worker checked them out but didn’t set any of them. All in all it was a very nice drive in that vehicle. The one major drawback to the Jeep is that it doesn’t have great gas mileage. I know I shouldn’t expect that, but still.
The first place we went to was Edmonton Institute for Women (EIFW) in Edmonton proper. It’s a penitentiary that houses all security levels from minimum to maximum. They have a version of the men’s special handling unit (SHU). It’s very small though. There are three pods in the max house, each housing 6 to 8 women with one or two rooms double bunked. As with male prisons they have to be mindful of incompatibles, people who can’t be housed together because of conflicts. Only one pod is released for daily exercise and such at a time to prevent incidents. There is one woman that is up for Dangerous Offender status because of her propensity to try and take hostages. Thus far EIFW is the only women’s prison where she’s not successfully taken hostages.
The remainder of the population is held in houses around the main buildings. Each house has 8 to 10 bedrooms, a main common area and a kitchen. The women can either pool their weekly pay and buy groceries together or they can work individually. If they pool their money and purchases then they can get more and better groceries. It also allows each woman to keep more of her money for personal items. Once a month or so a volunteer goes out and purchases items for the women. They can get such things as hair dye, cosmetics, CDs, video games, etc. Also, unlike the men in a large male institution, the women are allowed to wear more in the way of street clothing. There is also a high needs (usually mental health) house called Hummingbird House. Women come and stay there for 4 months in an very supervised and intensively programmed environment. There is always a CX (guard) in the house and during the day there is a psychologist, social worker and program worker in house. This way the skills the women learn are always reinforced and they can be called to task immediately at times when they fail to use their new coping skills. This is more effective in halting unhealthy behaviours than waiting until the next day. It also helps avoid having volatile situations escalate.
After our tour there we began the 4 plus hours drive to Grand Cache. All I can say to this is that Alberta drivers are nuts. Really. The highway speed is 110 kph (68 mph). My co-worker was going 115 kph (71 mph) and a lot of the drivers were passing us as though we were driving at city speed. It was scary. This was on the Yellowhead highway #16 (the northern TransCanada). When we turned off the #16 and onto the #40 things changed somewhat. First off, it wasn’t a divided highway. Next the speed limit was 100 kph (62 mph). This highway was somewhat twisty and started the journey into the foothill mountains of the Rockies. There were sharper turns and twists, hills and dales and lots and lots of areas where passing wasn’t permitted. Add to that we were driving at dusk and night. Again, there were autos passing us at regular intervals. Not only personal vehicles but semi carrying full loads passed us. Many of those passing us did so in areas where passing wasn’t permitted and downright dangerous because we were going up a hill or there was a turn around a hill making it impossible to see if there was oncoming traffic. It was risky behaviour that had me thinking they were dying to get where they were going and weren’t averse to taking other people with them.
The hotel we stayed at was Best Western in Grand Cache. We arrived after sunset. They had two buildings, one for (I assume) longer term stays and the other for the hotel proper. Of course we went to the wrong building first. We finally checked in and got to eat. I had chicken Alfredo with broccoli. It was incredibly meh. The sauce was virtually flavourless and watery. The Caesar salad I had as an appetizer was good though. (I took a photo of it and of our lunch earlier in the day at Fatburger). That night I found out that we couldn’t close the curtains for privacy. They had sheers then over that they had curtains on short rods. This meant that a ground floor room was open to view to anyone who wanted to peek in. I know I’m no great beauty, but I do like to be concealed from the eyes of strangers when I’m changing clothes. It can also present a significant security issue. I shall be visiting their web site and making the suggestion that they offer full drapes that close all the way. Aside from the security issue, it means that sunshine cannot be shut out of a room if one needs to get some sleep in the day time. Non-functioning drapes are just stupid. I’ll be going to their website and leaving a comment or two about that.
After breakfast (scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, hash browns, toast and coffee) we went to the men’s prison. It’s situated down hill from town of Grand Cache in a valley. This is a medium-minimum institution. There we talked to all the institutional parole officers (IPOs) about our half-way house and the Reporting Centre program. Then we spoke to a prisoner who plans, and has been accepted at the house, to move to Saskatoon. This gives him familiar faces when he gets to our place. Then we talked to the inmate reps who represent all the prisoners and advocate for them within the institution. From there we went to the Pathways House. This is a program that focuses on Aboriginal prisoners who want to work on healing themselves from issues such as childhood abuse, alcohol and drug addictions and learning the ways of their cultures. It’s a fairly intensive program that prisoners have to prove themselves to get into. They work with Elders and help each other in their attempts to make sure they don’t keep repeating the patterns of behaviours that brought them to prison in the first place.
After that it was the long drive back to Edmonton. We went to West Edmonton Mall to shop around a bit and eat supper. My co-worker picked up a pair of sweats for her boyfriend and drooled over purses. I wasn’t able to buy anything with cash and didn’t want to use the credit card unnecessarily. That mall is impressive. I got thoroughly lost. Oddly enough we found a parking spot only two rows from an entrance. Go figure.
The flight home was on a different air line. We flew Air Canada Jazz to Edmonton. We would have flown home on Air Canada (the only direct flight) if they had more than one flight per day. We would have had to stay another night in Edmonton to do so. Instead we flew West Jet to Calgary and Calgary to Saskatoon. This flight was around 8:30 to Calgary then a wait until the flight from Calgary to Saskatoon. We arrived at nearly 1 am in Saskatoon. I took lots of photos on my trip but wasn’t able to on the flight home. I didn’t have a window seat and so wasn’t able to get night photos of landing in Saskatoon. I had two window hogs between me (on the aisle) and the window. That sucked. Flying kind of sucks. The seats are narrow and they aren’t very comfortable. By the time I got home my butt was in need of not sitting on hard surfaces. It was a great relief to get home.
As I mentioned before, I took lots of photos. The ones from the plane have a decided blue hue to them. That is what comes from taking photos of snow. Here’s the slide show of my adventures: Trip to Edmonton/Grand Cache
First off, Firefox is acting stupid. I like to have a sidebar with my bookmarks in it. It’s handier than always going up to the bookmarks menu. For some stupid reason the bookmarks menu in the sidebar is different than the one in the menu up top and in my organize bookmarks function and I can’t get the damned thing to change. I’ve tried closing the sidebar and I’ve tried restarting Firefox. Neither has worked.
The next thing was a stupid mistake I made while working on Bran’s stole. It was a stupid and careless mistake that I shouldn’t have made. I was in the midst of sewing the beads to the canvas when I discovered an error I’d made in sewing the two together. I was taking the beads off with a seam ripper when I missed the thread I was trying to remove and slipped it into the beadwork itself. I ripped the thread holding the beads together. So I had to remove beads back a distance on each side of the booboo. Now I have to rebead the ribbon, join the blue again to the red and sew it all to the canvas again. It’s a frustration. It’s relatively easy to fix, but still, I’d rather have not made the mistake in the first place.
Today was spent doing weekly reports. The entire shift was devoted to that task. I had to write up 23 reports. Sure some were shorter than others, but there were several that involved a whole lot of writing because they either talked to staff a lot or else they created drama and that had to be documented. I didn’t finished until 4:30. Happily the woman who usually works nights is happy to take on the weekly reports. Chances are she won’t get through all of them and the day staff will have to finish them up (we’re expecting to get up to close to 30 residents in the next few months) but having a goodly portion of them done will make Mondays a whole lot less painful.
Tomorrow I have to be at work at 8:30 am. Then my co-worker and I will be picked up by a cab and we’ll be trundled out to the airport where we’ll fly to Edmonton. Needless to say Sudafed will not only be in my bag, it’ll be in my body. My ears aren’t totally cleared up and I’d like to minimize the pain and ancillary effects on my hearing. Then it’s off to Edmonton Institute for Women (EIFW) to talk to the women who are incarcerated there to promote our half-way house. The next day we have a full time at Grand Cache. Then it’s shop ’til I drop, or until it’s time to leave for the airport to fly to Calgary then fly home. My poor ears, how they will plug, hopefully only temporarily.
On Friday I work a short 4 hour shift (walking to and from work) and it’s the weekend. I’ll be putting together some monthly reports for my co-worker. Happily the overnight staff will be working on weekly reports on Sunday (her Monday). This means that my evening shift will be a whole lot less in terms of having to do other than my own monthly reports. Hopefully it’ll mean that I don’t have to do more than a quick check to make sure she got the right stuff on the reports and didn’t miss anything important. Since this is the last trip out of town for a while, it’ll also mean that there will be more time for those nasty monthly reports.
That’s been my time of late.
…from the inside out. That’s because I’m not going outside today unless I absolutely have to (read: the house has to be on fire). It’s 10 am and it’s -31C outside. I can see that it’s cold because the car is covered with a thick layer of frost and the exhaust of cars going by doesn’t dissipate. I can see it floating even after the car is gone. It’s a good day to have coffee and toast with tomato, don’t you think?
Bran and I went out on Friday and got my needed fabric and notions to continue with my beading projects. I got 4 metres of fabric, black ribbon (1″ wide to go around the pieces), iron on interfacing (double sided so it’ll stick to both pieces of fabric), thread, some sewing machine needles. Bran also picked out some iron-on patches, a bumble bee, a frog and a Chinese dragon. I don’t know for sure where they’ll go, but I’m sure they’ll be somewhere nice. Perhaps in the middle of a beaded project.
It all cost about $100. It would have been twice that but I also got a membership and right now everything is 50% off to members. It’s a very convincing way of ensuring that memberships get sold. I paid $30 for the canvas. It would’ve been $60 without the membership.
So now that I have all that I realized that I need one more thing. Ordinary, but very stiff interfacing to go behind the badges. They need to be very stiff to compensate for the heaviness of the beads. The beads make the badge want to fold over and roll. The interfacing would keep it stiff like badges are supposed to be. That’ll wait for a bit though. I want to get Bran’s stole done first.
I should go eat now. My stomach is beginning to whine at me.
Today I was being frustrated by Firefox. It was logy and slow. Loading pages into tabs took forever to finish loading, especially if there were images on the pages (considering I was reading comics that are virtually all image…). So I decided to try and experiment. I knew that the Firefox add-ons increased the time it took to load the program. It was a simple extrapolation to the add-ons making general page loading longer. So I went in and took out all the add-ons that weren’t compatible with the current version and the bits and pieces that I don’t use.
Voila! So far so good. It takes a whole lot less time to load pages. I haven’t done y second folder which contains photo heavy sites like Cute Overload but it loaded Pioneer Woman quickly, and she’s got a very photo heavy site.
Everything is faster, including typing. I’m so clever.
Edited to add that this new, sleeker Firefox without all the extraneous add-ons is like working with a jet after flying a Sopwith Camel.
It’s freaking cold outside! At 6:30 am (because I was working and a guy asked before he headed out to start his car) it was -29C (-20F) with a -40C (it’s the same in F) windchill – that means that with the wind that’s how cold it feels. Flesh will freeze in a matter of minutes. Just a few days ago I was walking around large puddles created by a mid-winter thaw. Oy!
When I went out to start the car (I drove to work rather than make Bran drive me to and from) I definitely felt that cold. I’d gotten cold at work and actually put a sweater on. For those who know me, this is going to come as shocking news. I don’t wear sweaters much because I tend to be quite warm. However, today I put a sweater on at work, turned off the fan and turned on the wall heater. Granted it’s probably because I’m low on sleep and my body was doing the sleep shut-down thing, but still. It surprised my co-worker.
I’m home now and have begun my long weekend. I’m waiting for Bran to get out of bed, and get ready and then off we go to the fabric store. It’s the start of what feels like, a four day weekend. Yay!
It’s crazy at work the way my hours are all screwed up. Thanks to the two who quit without notice (who, by the way are acting really stupid) my hours are all over the place. It also seems that when people start work at our place (or the new residents arrive) they get sick with a cold. The latest casualty is our new overnight person. It sounds a whole lot like she’s got the flu, not just a cold. This means that there is no one to work her shift. So that’s what I’m doing tonight. I shall be the midnight to 8 am person. This also means that my February long weekend starts much earlier than originally planned. I’ve had a 3 hour very profound nap, so I’m good to go…for now. We’ll see how things are come 4 am.
We’ve got cable back. I’ve been trying to get the recording on the DVR right again. It looks like I have to overshoot the recording time by about 1 minute or so to prevent premature cut-offs. I’ll get it right. The good thing about A&E is that they rerun everything eventually, especially with their more popular shows.
Just so you know, the new Swiffer ads are stupid.
Next week I work the day shift on Tuesday (Monday is a stat holiday – Family Day) and then fly to Edmonton on Wednesday. Yes, I’ll have my Sudafed with me. Fly back on Thursday night and work Friday…evening, I think. The good news is that they’re getting some quality resumes in for the full time position. They’ll be interviewing soon (I hope) and then I’ll be helping to train the new people. I hope they work out. The owner things the starting wages are too high, but they’re having people turn down the full time positions because the starting wages are lower than they could get elsewhere. It’s going to be a case of finding someone who really wants to work there and has a passion for the work done, as opposed to is in it for the money.
My ears are slowly clearing up. I still have a lot of clicking in my ears indicating fluid behind the eardrums, but my hearing is more clear. I just asked Bran how loud the tv was to high. I can hear it clearly, though I can’t turn it down more and still hear it. He said it was “reasonable”. So there you have it. My hearing approaches normal. I’m also not getting the achiness in my jaw, teeth and deep ear that I got last week. So, yay!
I finished the stole that I was making for Bran. It was entirely of seed beads, approximately 4 metres in length. It’s a long ribbon of blue, red, green and yellow beads. Now I have to get 4.5 metres of canvas, some bias tape, sewing machine needles and good thread to sew the ribbon down to. I could leave it as it is but it’s life would be greatly diminished. Besides, that much canvas will encourage me to direct bead things like badges. I can even use the precious stone beads I have to make things. I also have to join the Celtic knot badges I have made to canvas to stiffen it up. Oh, that reminds me, I have to get some double sided interfacing. I’m going to get a membership to the fabric store because then I can also get beads for less money. That’s one of the things I’m getting on Saturday.
That’s about it. I hope y’all have noticed that I’m posting more. I’m trying to get back into the routine of writing here. It’s an excellent way of keeping track of how I’m doing, what I’m doing and such like. That reminds me. I have to update my WordPress.
Guess what’ in mine.
Some guy with some major issues:
Then there are the usual “interesting post” and “I’m bookmarking your site” because I have such scintillating words on very important topics. Too bad they all write the same thing regardless of the product/service they want to inflict on the world.
The ubiquitous porn offer from “sexyflics.com/blog/horny-black-bitches-and-stallions” telling me I’m a great author. You can’t see it but I’m all a flutter and delicately fanning myself with my hands right now. I’m so flattered.
The next one is offering to do the writing for me. I guess they don’t think I’m good enough a writer. Or perhaps they think I’m a big time editor who publishes the works of other people who are great writers.
The last one was what created my need to create this great missive: “Get Rid of Sweaty Underarms for Good | Cure Excessive Sweating” Who can resist an opportunity like that?
Not me, that’s certain.
In the past two weeks I have been confirmed to go to Bowden and Drumheller institutions, then told I wasn’t going, then confirmed again. It’s official. I’m not going this year. It has nothing to do with money this time. In the past week we’ve had two staff quit without notice. I’m still going to Edmonton the week after next though.
I expected the one. She’s training with Corrections to become a Corrections Officer. That’s very intensive training. Splitting her attention would be, at best, difficult. Luckily we had new staff hired to work other shifts. However, last night another staff quit without notice. This means that we’re short staffed again. We filled her shift right away, but we’re still down one full time person. So I’ll be working evenings until we get someone trained to work opposite shifts to me. That’ll be at least two weeks. While I prefer evenings and it gives me more contact with the residents (though I’m not sure some of them like that) I’d like to think that there was some degree of regard for me and other coworkers. Apparently I was wrong. This doesn’t just screw the bosses, it screws me and other staff. The past two weeks have had me change from days to evenings to days again to get shifts covered. That’s hard on a 50 year old body.
My cold. Oh, my cold. Yeah, it’s hanging on. Most particularly my ears are still plugged. My hearing is better than it was, but I’m still missing a significant portion of my hearing. Since it’s now 2 weeks since the initial plugging up (landing in Saskatoon) it’s time I see a doctor to make sure there’s no infection and see if I can get some more potent decongestants to unplug my Eustachian tubes. I still sniffle and such, but that’s just the tag ends.
The weather here is stupid. We’ve gone from the deep freeze to near melting, back to the deep freeze and now back to hovering around 0C (32F). I can live with the cold. In fact, I prefer the cold. I dislike dealing with such large fluctuations. It doesn’t help me get rid of illnesses.
Bran’s been working. Did I tell you he got a job? He did. It’s a great relief to me to know that we have another fairly reliable source of income. Anyway his shift has been 1pm – 9 pm. This means that I’ve been walking either to or from work. The walk to work when it’s frigid cold is nice. When it’s warmer I end up all hot and sweaty from the walk. It always takes me a lot of time to cool down from that.
I have cable back. When we decided to disconnect Bran did a seasonal disconnect. That’s one of the advantages of living in the Great White North…snowbirds. You see there is a large segment of the population who go south for the winter. They don’t want to be paying re-connection fees every time they return home, so the phone company (that’s who provides our cable, phone and internet) offers a seasonal disconnection for those who travel in winter. So now I have A&E back. It needed some help (Bran had to call SaskTel to get instructions to have the box try and connect to the right whatchamacallit at SaskTel). I have murder and mayhem back. Right now I’m watching Man Hunters. I’ll be recording a whole lot of First 48s.
I finished the major beading of Bran’s stole. I have a few beads to replace as they broke when I was joining the ribbons together. I also have to weave in the tag ends of threads. Then I have to get about 4 metres of canvas and other things to put the beads on.. After that I’ll be making moccasins for Bran. I have plans for the top beading. It’s going to take an impressive amount of leather to make moccasins for his skis. One of the residents at work is going to teach me how to make them. I have to make a few changes because the seams have to be on the outside because I don’t want there to be ridges inside to cause rub sores. That’s a minor change though.
Bran got me a portable DVD player today. It’s a nice little beastie. It has a car lighter adapter that means I can watch movies while travelling. The picture quality is a bit lower than I expected but that’s ok. It’s not for all the time, just for work and travelling. I already tested it out and it works well.
Dad’s estate still hasn’t been settled. The lawyers sent out statements (two of them) that were incorrect. They also sent out releases. Apparently we’re waiting on the releases from my nieces for the final distribution. I don’t know what’s taking so long though. Even mail from California (where one niece lives) doesn’t take a month. I’m waiting on that to go house and car hunting.
Speaking of finances only on the not-so-good front, I got my notice from Canada Student Loans this week. They’re setting me up for a payment of nearly $900 a month for nearly 10 years. Oy! I’ll be contacting them to reduce that amount. Sure I know that means that I’ll be paying it off longer therefore paying more, but I don’t earn enough to allow me to pay that amount per month, even with Bran working.
Work is going to get crazy, stupid busy. Right now we have 20 residents. That’s a good number for a single staff to manage. Things are busy but not out of hand. Weekly reports can be done in a single shift. There’s a nice variety of people with differing challenges that makes a shift pass fairly quickly. However, in the next month or so we’re expecting up to 12 more (I don’t know if this includes the women we expect). I’ve never worked there when it’s been this busy. We’re going to be getting most of those (if they’re given day parole) because the other half-way house has only 1 bed available right now. I pity the cook. She’s going to have to cook for that many people. Hopefully not many have allergies.
I can’t think of much else to write about. It pretty much covers the gamut of events in the past week or so.
I’ve already had a nap, too. Not only that, but as a family we loaded up the car with the recycling (milk bottles, tin cans and paper) and took it out to the bins. We also went to the drug store and got me some Sudafed. Well, it’s actually the store brand, but it’s essentially the same thing with a lower price tag. Now we wait to see if my ears will unplug in the next few days of taking it. My cold is getting better. My voice gives out if it’s dry (and that’s the definition of the winter air here), my Eustachian tubes are plugged up making me deaf and I blow my nose less often than yesterday. So things are improving.
My work schedule is going to be a bit wonky for a while. I’m going to be working 12 to 8 pm Monday to Wednesday and 8 am to 4 pm Thursday and Friday. This is to accommodate another staff who is training for a job elsewhere. When she goes someone will take over her job and I’ll be back at switching days and evenings. I can live with sleeping in three days a week.
Another change that will likely happen is that I’ll not be working Friday evenings (it’s a short shift of only 4 hours) because they want to hire someone casual but still give a few hours a week to her. That will mean she’ll get that shift and the Sunday 4-midnight shift. It’ll guarantee hours and we’ll have someone on-call in case someone else is sick.
I won’t be going to Drumheller Penitentiary nor to Bowden Institution as we’ve gone over budget for the recruitment trips. That’s ok though. There’s always next year for that. I’m still going to Edmonton and Grand Cache later in the month. And now that I have pseudo-Sudafed I’m all set, ear-wise.
Tomorrow is our day of rest and recreation. I’m thinking of watching Redwall and/or murder and mayhem while beading. This will mean that I’ll be offline for the day.
Such excitement. I know you’re on the edge of your seats.