Monday, May 31, 2010

Part 1 of Wedding Weekend

Yes yes, I'm alive! I have not fallen off the face of the planet, although it feels like I have in a way. I haven't turned on my computer in quite a many days and I feel guilty for not letting everyone know what I've been up to! I just want to first say that I will not be able to fit everything into just one blog, so this will probably be a double blog story. Second, I am completely exhausted but it was all most definitely worth it.

So my first "day off" was on Wednesday. I worked until 6am that morning and headed home for a well deserved sleep. Unfortunately sleep did not come as well as one would hope for since all I could do was lay there and think about everything that needed to be done in the next day and a half. I would fall asleep for about a half hour, wake up, look at the clock, grimace and try to fall back asleep. This cycle went on until about 10am when I decided that sleep was not on my list of things to do that day so I had better just get up and get some things done. Unfortunately on my way to town that day, my exhaust decided to blow up a little bit, leaving my car sounding like a 747 coming up the highway. Not good. One more thing on the list of things to do!

Thursday was crazy. I got up around 5:30 because once again I couldn't shut my brain off. My first task was to call about my car at 8am when it opened. The guy told me to bring it in at 11am. That gave me a couple hours. I had to move all of my stuff to Pam's house since that is where I am planning on living for the duration of the summer. I am well aware that it was very last minute but it was necessary since I was working lots and other things were prioritizing over moving. Plus moving sucks. Before I could move all of my stuff I had to clean out my car since it was covered in Splash and Rizzo hair. One more thing to do! After cleaning the car, packing the car, driving the car, parking the car and unloading the car at Pam's house, I did a super quick unpacking then ran the car down to Johnny's Muffler. I left him the keys and got a ride to get my mom's car which I used for the rest of the afternoon. My next task was a monster grocery shop. Moving into an empty house sucks because you have to buy everything! Flour, sugar, salt, pepper, milk, eggs, fruits..... everything. Plus you always forget about 50 things and don't think about it until you get home.

Eventually the dude from the muffler place called to give me an estimate of the damage and I gave him the go to fix the car. Poor car. It can't help the fact that it's old and falling apart. He told me to pick it up around closing time (5ish), which was perfect because I had an appointment to get my hair fixed (went slightly yellow after this new girl coloured it) at 4:30 and it would only take about 10-15 minutes and the salon was directly across the street from the muffler place. The one good thing about living in a small town; everything is so close. Well.... 45 minutes later my hair was done. I was not impressed with how long it took. 10-15 minutes my ass!! So by the time I got out of there to get my car, the place was long closed and I was starting to panic. I needed to be arranging flowers for the wedding in Robson 10 minutes ago and my car was unpaid for and sitting at the shop. I didn't know what to do! Take the car? Not take the car? I would have felt terrible just taking it without paying and letting the guy know that I would be back to pay. I ended up driving to my parent's house and having a slight mental breakdown. "I'm supposed to be arranging flowers for Sarah's wedding right now and my car is downtown and I can't just take it because I haven't paid yet and he might think I'm ripping him off and ahhh, Sarah's going to think I'm ditching them...." blah blah blah...slight freak out in my parent's kitchen. Oh, did I mention that I was leaving for Kelowna that next morning as well to pick up Chris? The plan was for me to take my parent's car to Kelowna (since my car is "unreliable" as my mom calls it) and they can use my car that day until I get back later that afternoon.

Of course my dad is the level headed one in the group. "We'll go down, grab the car and you can go to Robson to do the flowers. I'll call Johnny's and leave a message that someone will be down in the morning to pay for the car. I can pay for your car and you can pay me when you get back from Kelowna. Ok?" Thanks dad. You're the greatest. So we did the car swap and I drove as fast as I could to get to the flower party. It was held at Teresa's house (Sarah's friend) in Robson, who is a florist, and all of the bridesmaids, Teresa, Sarah and Sarah's future sister-in-law were there to put all of the bouquets and center pieces together for the wedding. The combination of lilies and roses was truly gorgeous. After they were all completed and some daiquiris and shots were downed, I needed to get home to try to get some much needed sleep for the drive the next morning. Chris was coming!

Obviously I didn't sleep. How can one sleep when they're so excited? So Friday morning consisted of getting up early and heading onto the road by 6am. I had to make a quick pit-stop at Christina Lakes Golf Course to pick up a golf club that my dad bought and had reserved for him at the pro-shop there. I arrived in Kelowna around 10:15ish and literally paced the airport until the plane landed. It was great to see a friendly face get off that plane. Not seeing him for 5 weeks wasn't all that great, but the wait was worth it. Unfortunately we didn't have the time to take in the sights of Kelowna since I had to get back to Trail for the rehearsal dinner that night at Sarah's grandma's house. No rest for the wicked I suppose. Poor Chris had to meet Sarah and all of her family all at once on a crazy stressful day of pre-wedding preparation. Not to mention my family as well. He's a brave one.

The rehearsal dinner went well. When we were practicing where we were going to stand at the ceremony and what would be said, I choked up about 3 times! I was I going to get through the actual wedding when I was a blubbering fool at the rehearsal? This was not a good sign. Plan 1 was to stuff the bra with tissue. Plan 2 was waterproof mascara. And if worse came to worse, plan 3 was to not look Sarah or anyone for that matter, in the eye the entire time. After going through the practice ceremony twice, we had some food and mingled with everyone. Sarah was feeling pretty nervous because she hates being the center of attention...but I knew she would be fine. She loves Mike too much to freak out about the whole thing.

Ok. You're probably all sick of reading all of this, so I will leave it at that for now. Part 2 will talk about the actual ceremony and reception. Yay!! The fun part!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

14 Steps to Night-Shift

The first thing that people ask me when I tell them that I'm working 4&4 at Cominco is "so how are you finding night shift?" I've had to answer this question so many times the past two weeks that I'm thinking of creating amazing stories to tell people around night shift. Something like, we all run around naked and make zinc angels in all of the dust on the floor.

So I've decided to outline the 14 steps of what a typical night shift is like for me.

1) Around 5pm I begin my walk to work. It's an enjoyable 35 minute walk despite the dreaded 280+ step staircase it takes to get up to the Teck parking lot. I always envy the people coming down the steps. Not only have they completed their shift but they are also getting to walk down the steps instead of up them. Bastards.

2) One of the worst parts of the night arrives around 5:35, which is taking off my already hot socks and shoes to put on even hotter work socks and work boots. The oversized coveralls don't help much to lower my body temperature either.

3) 5:40 --> the shift begins. This is when I feel complete defeat because it's really hot on the charge floor and I know that I have 12 hours to endure. The first hour is really quiet.

4) By around 8:30 I am famished. I have no idea why but at the same time every night shift my stomach aches with hunger and all I can think about is my break coming up. Being excited for food is great!

5) 9pm --> Break #1 begins. At this point I always eat a lot of food in a small amount of time even though I have plenty of time to eat it in. I'm just so hungry for some reason. After my gorgefest, I regret eating so much because I still have 9 hours of work to get through and am quite certain that hunger will strike again in the near future. Damn. I decide to ration my food.

6) 10pm --> Back on the floor and back to work. This is when my first wind kicks in. The spurt of energy has mostly to do with the one cup of coffee that I allow myself during my first break, plus the huge amount of glucose surfing through my body from the vast amount of food I just consumed. The next two hours go by quite quickly because the strip lines (the machines that send me zinc) are usually running quite steady and I have to keep up.

7) Midnight --> Break #2 begins. I eat a little more and get some reading done. I try really hard to stay alert and focused. I drink lots of water as well. Drinking lots of water helps to keep me hydrated in the warm work environment but also keeps me alert in the wee hours of the morning because I have to pee so frequently that running to and from the washroom keep me awake! Great trick eh??

8) 1am --> I feel a bit of optimism because I am half way done the shift! The next hour goes by well but around 2am is when the yawns kick in and I start to feel a bit nauseated from being tired. I shake it off by keeping busy moving the zinc around and waving to all of the people on the Electrolytic side. Nice group of guys over there.

9) 3am --> Break #3 begins. At this point it feels like the night may never end. When I enter the lunch room, most of the lights are turned off and at least 4 guys are napping in the chairs. I always contemplate napping as well but am too distracted by the noise from the building and guys coming and going from the room for coffee refills. I try to read some more.

10) 4am --> Back on the floor from my last break gives me hope that the night will eventually end because there is only an hour and 45 minutes to go!! I am usually making tiny stupid little mistakes like bumping the back end of my forklift into walls/stack of zinc and not lifting the forks high enough when picking up the zinc (which in turns results in a large bang against the steel machinery and wakes me up a bit). During my many quick pee breaks I notice that it's becoming light outside and I am saddened a bit that night has come and gone without me even noticing.

11) 5:30am --> Extreme restlessness kicks in because there's only 15 minutes left in my shift and I'm excited.

12) 5:45am --> End of shift. The best part of the shift begins in two steps. The first step is getting to take out my earplugs. It's such a relief to take those out. The second is taking a shower. The showers are amazing because they provide endless hot water and strong pressure for as long as you desire. I always want to stand under the running water forever, but I know that the sooner I am finished then the sooner I can get to bed. Bed always trumps shower.

13) 6am --> The walk home from work. At around 6:01 is when the sun comes up so I am always pleased to be around for that moment. It sucks knowing that I have to go to bed instead of enjoy the morning, but I'm so wiped that I don't have the energy to really mourn the loss. The walk home is slightly dangerous. I don't know what's more dangerous; driving when tired or walking when tired. I figure I'm less likey to harm other people by walking, so it always seems like a good idea to walk. So I fall over into the ditch and take a nap. No harm done, rather that my dignity gets a little bruised.

14) 6:35am --> I arrive home. Change. Brush teeth. Sleep. Ahhhhhhh.

So there you have it. Adrienne's 14 Steps to Night-Shift. I hope you enjoyed this enlightening adventure.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rain Down on Me

So today on my walk home from work, I had one of those moments that makes you stop, smile and appreciate. You know in all the cartoons when the character is walking under a small dark cloud and it's raining only directly onto him, and no matter which way he turns the cloud follows and continues to soak him? Well that happened to me today. As soon as I walked out of the plant this afternoon I knew that I was going to get rained on. One dark looming cloud directly above me was the dead give-away. About 5 minutes into the walk it began to rain. About 10 minutes after that I stopped dead in my tracks, looked to the left, looked to the right, then front and back...only to see blue sky completely surrounding me...except for the dark cloud directly above me of course. All I could do was smile and keep on trudging home.

Friday, May 21, 2010

No Thanks!

There are some topics which are hard to discuss and even more difficult to explain without coming off as a complete psycho who should be banned from all mankind. I avoid bringing up this topic because I hate the looks and comments that people give me (most of them coming from my family) whenever I express my point of view. The topic: Babies.

I think that I should narrow down what I mean before every mother on the planet stands up and shouts at me in defense. Babies are fine; for other people. I am quite certain that I am missing the "mom gene" because I have never, not for one moment in my entire existence, have had the desire to produce a child. Many of my friends have one or several kids already and that is totally cool. I love their kids and am incredibly pleased that they are happy being moms. I love visiting and playing with kids, but I also love that at the end of the day that they are not going home with me. Yeah I know this is an asshole thing to confess, but I can't help the way that I feel about this!

I was reading that there may actually be a gene that is passed from father to child which will gives the daughter the natural maternal instinct that she needs to be a good mother…perhaps my dad skipped out on me there because both of my sisters obviously have it. I mean, there is a maternal instinct about me but it seems to be a bit more toned down. I’m the cool calm and collective adult who says things like, “oh she’ll be fine,” or, “let him figure it out by himself”, or even, “she’ll learn it’s sharp in a second or two” (just kidding about the last one there). I’m not a huge worrier like a lot of females out there and I think that doesn’t work in my favour when it comes to raising children. I could just picture my kids running around the neighbourhood, naked and screaming while throwing water balloons at each other. Not a pretty sight. On the other hand though, I’d always be the bad-cop when it came to discipline because I’m a bit of a hard ass. I already feel sorry for my husband.

Two days ago I was playing with my adorable little 2 year old niece and my sister (her mom) said, "Isn't she adorable? Can't you just not wait to have your own?" and I just kind of sneered and shook my head. Then she went on saying how amazing it is to have kids and that I will feel differently when I have one for myself...and I think I had to swallow back a little bit of barf that backed up into my mouth. Is there something wrong with me? Shouldn't I want to procreate and have a little person that I will love more than anything else and will go to the end of the world for? I guess I just don't understand the desire to stretch out one’s body to have this little crying/barfing/pooping/snotting person who needs you 24/7, makes you incontinent and counts on you for its survival. Why would I want to be sleep deprived for the rest of my life? I am glad that other people want to have kids because we obviously need them to repopulate the earth and carry on our civilization, and I am genuinely ecstatic whenever someone tells me that they're going to have a baby. I am also very thankful that it is not me.

Yes, I am selfish and I am very much aware of this, but at least I can admit it. I like having "me" time and I like being able to come and go as I please without having to worry about another person to take care of. I can barely take care of myself most of the time. Maybe there will come a time in my life where I will all of a sudden have this burning desire to have children…but it hasn’t happened yet and I’m not holding my breath since I don’t get all weepy and gooey over babies and even though I am madly in love with other people’s kids, I still don’t want one for myself.

Maybe I just don’t have the desire to physically have a child. I think that I could most probably adopt one and be happy with that situation, but peeing my pants every time that I laugh just does not appeal to me. I figure that there are so many children in this world that need people to love them, and I would never want to add another child to earth unless it was 100% wanted. Think of all the children who need families already; maybe one day I can be a family to a little boy or girl when I am good and ready…but I’m in no rush.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dozing Off Behind the Wheel

My dad is great. Truly. He has so many fantastic characteristics that makes him the one and only Larry Kotyk that will ever walk the earth. First of all he's hilarious. Hanging out with him is always a time of laughter. I don't think he even tries to be funny which makes it even greater. He's very giving (he always gives me the best bite of ice cream in his bowl), optimistic and supportive (especially when I told him I was planning to move all the way across the country), and he always surprises us when he starts singing the most random songs at the most random times. Most of these songs being childhood rhymes or commercials that pretty much everyone else had forgotten about 30 years ago.

Two night ago I did something at work that immediately reminded me of something that my dad does and it made me smile, so I thought that I would share it. You see, one thing about my dad that makes him great is that when I am flying back from PEI for whatever reason, he is always willing to come pick me up at any time, from any airport. Unfortunately sometimes this means being there to pick me up around midnight in Kelowna in which there is a 3.5 hour drive afterwards...none of which I am willing to drive because I'm pooped from the trip already. Many years ago my mom informed me that when my dad gets tired when he's driving, he'll start humming or singing the most random songs to keep himself awake. I have learned this to be true from the numerous late-night drives to and from airports (and trips to Seattle) over the years. In fact, if I am dozing in the seat next to him and I hear him start singing when there's no music playing on the radio, I become instantly awake because I know he's getting sleepy and I might need to be alert in case he drives off the road.

So like I said, two nights ago I learned that I inherited this trait from my dad. Around 4am when I was driving my beloved pink forklift around (I have affectionately named her Pinkie), I suddenly realized that I was singing the most random set of songs. First it was "If I could make a living out of lovin you", by Clay Walker (haven't heard that song in at least 10 years), "Just Crusin" by Will Smith, and "Gaston" from Beauty and the Beast. Yep. Gaston. As in "No one shoots like Gaston, Makes those beauts like Gaston, Then goes tromping around wearing boots like Gaston..."

I guess I should take comfort in the fact that I am one of the rare people who is actually happy to have traits from their parents. Who knew?

But I'm still upset that I got my dad's short sausage fingers!

Oh What a Night

I'm beginning to think that the arrival of the summer students at work, and by that I mean ME, has inflicted some kind of voodoo curse on Cominco. My very first day of shift work had two incidences. First, there was a fire on one of the Electrolytic machines which is only about 20 feet from where I work. The shift supervisor came over and told me there was a fire and just to go get my I did. Then I just went about my work as though nothing was going on, meanwhile the firefighters are combating fire just across the way. No biggie. About 10 minutes after the flame and smoke subsided and I took off the respirator, one of the furnaces started smoking so badly that my eyes were burning and my skin stung a I decided it might be smart to put the respirator back on. This smoke continued for about an hour or so and it really stunk and just made the environment not fun to work in. I found out a few hour later that some aluminum had gotten dumped into the furnace along with the zinc which caused some major smokage. Apparently it was that awesome kind of aluminum that has been proven to cause Alzheimer's. Good to know I was breathing that stuff in for a while...I'm pretty sure that I gained some brain plaques and tangles from that experience.

So last night during my night shift there were a couple incidences as well which further lead me to believe that I am a stroke of bad luck to the company. Around 11:45 (I only know the time because it was directly before my lunch break), there was a power outage at the plant. What made the matter even greater is that the headlamp on my forklift is broken so I couldn't see where I was going so I had to park in the dark until my coworker came and found me. Apparently there have been guys who have worked up there forever and ever, and have never seen the power go out. Finally when the power did kick back on, it was time for lunch!

When we got to the lunchroom, it was a bit eerie because there was no one in there. Normally when we arrive there are lots of guys hanging around (or napping), but today there was no one. About 10 minutes into lunch, one of the regular guys came in and explained that the plant is in chaos because of the power outage and crazy stuff was happening all over the place. Eventually the rest of the guys started trickling in...most of them covered in sweat and frustration. About 10 minutes after that, one guy came in announcing that one of the new guys had pushed one of the jumbos (HUGE slab of zinc) over a wall and onto a scale, and now the scale was decreasing in weight whenever you add something to it. If I know one thing in this world, it's that recalibrating a scale is no fun, so I can't imagine what it will be like for the poor guy who had to fix that scale today.

The rest of the shift went fairly smoothly. One of the guys (actually the new guy who pushed the jumbo off the wall), accidentally took my hard hat and safety glasses from the hook wall so someone had to go off and find him while I waited around for my safety gear. Oh what a night....(late December back in '63, what a very special time for me, 'cause I remember what a night).

Tip of the Day: New guys who have only driven a forklift once or twice should never be allowed to carry jumbos around. Especially at 3 in the morning.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lunchroom Lunacy

By far the most intimidating aspect of my new job is break time. For the first couple shifts, we student trainees would eat in the “training room” and mind our own business. Since Wednesday when I started doing real shifts, I’ve had to eat my meals in the lunch room with the rest of the Teck employees (plus two other students who were also, needless to say, really intimidated as well). Before you even enter the main lunch room, there are hooks to your right where men hang their hard-hats before they enter. Each man hangs their hat on the same hook day in and day out…no questions asked. What happens if I take another man's hook? When you walk into the lunch room, it’s a place that time seemed to have forgotten a long time ago and traditions and routines have been implemented for decades. There are bulletins on the message boards from 10 years ago; month old sandwiches in the fridges; mugs and plates that have dust settled around them so that if you lift them the circle of dust remains perfectly in place for when that item is replaced to its designated place on the shelf. When the slight squeak of the door occurs, all eyes dart in your direction and the moment of truth is upon you; where will you sit.

It is a known fact that every man in every plant in every lunch room in all of Teck has a chair that he sits on every time he goes on break. New staff members are regularly kicked out of chairs when another (more senior) employee enters the room and finds him sitting in his seat. The problem with being a young woman in the lunch room is that the men are too nice to me and if I am found sitting in a 20 year long designated chair, they politely take their lunch bag and move to a chair that they know that no one else will sit in. No matter how many times I get up and offer the chair, they always politely decline and move. Now this makes me feel much worse that it would to be kicked out and told where to sit. A good verbal abuse would do me good I think. If I were a dude they wouldn’t hesitate to say “Get the ____ out of my seat boy!” and I would scramble away as quickly as possible. This would be much easier for everyone. I think that maybe I should bring my own chair and just go sit in the corner until I figure out the routine.

After work today (my first 12 hour shift!!!) I went as fast as I could to get to the theatre to watch Grayce’s (Sarah’s daughter’s) dance recital. She’s 4 and her very first time ever performing for an audience was something I did not want to miss. Just so everyone knows, you can run away from a forklift, run down to the change room, shower, change, drive to Sarah’s and get down to the theatre in less than 20 minutes. Who would of thunk?? Anyway, there was a whole row of us all excited to see Grayce dance in her new little princess dress. When it was her groups time to come on stage, every girl skipped onto the stage one by one until everyone was collected in a line. Twenty-some odd girls later…no Grayce. Apparently she had a change of mind at the very last second, much to all of our disappointment. Oh well. Better luck next year I suppose.

But I can’t complain. I got to come home early enough to enjoy an evening on the back patio. It’s nearly 8pm and it’s still 22 degrees out. The perfume of the lilacs is so strong it’s unbelievable. My cat just jumped about three feet into the air to attack a hovering hummingbird (which are darting around here like little fighter jets). Too bad I have to be back at work in 8 hours and 35 minutes.

Tip of the Day: Driving a car right after you drive a forklift for 12 hours is not recommended. Panicking when you can’t find the sift gear to lift the forks while driving down the highway is not a good feeling.

One last note before I head to bed. Thanks to Kaylynne for sending me this picture. I love love loved it and I hope everyone else who reads this can appreciate the greatness of this.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

P & P

I begin this blog with some pictures of one of my favourite blogs which I have mentioned many times already (Cake Wrecks), and yesterday they were celebrating cakes involving the medical profession. I think these are quite hilarious since they involved butts/bowels which is always a hot topic in my circle of friends (sex or poop, right ladies??). I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

So today is....Thursday?? Yeah, that's right. I can never seem to keep my days straight anymore. That's the one great thing about school; it keeps you on track for what day of the week it is. I've been working 7-3 for the past five shifts and will be doing that shift again tomorrow for the last time. On Friday I begin my regular work shifts which are 4 and 4, meaning I work 4 twelve hour shifts (two days and two nights) and then I get 4 days off. Overall I'll be working 72 hours in 8 days, which is good in some ways but crappy in other ways. I'll be very much looking forward to my four days off when they come. Working Shift work will be hard to get used to but over time it will get easier to deal with physically. I don't do well when my sleep patterns get screwed up, which they will get screwed up royally working this job...but it'll be worth it in the end.

So the job I'll be working is in Zinc Melting and basically I will be driving a forklift for most of the shift and tossing giant stacks of plated zinc down chutes from where they get melted in another area of the plant and made into huge blocks of zinc (jumbos) or smaller blocks for other customers. Today we actually got some driving time on the forklifts which was good because we need to learn how to handle those things really quickly since we'll be expected to run the charge floor with little supervision in a small amount of time. It's a really intimidating job at first because there's so many things you have to be watching and thinking about at once; and when you're driving a forklift in snail speed because you suck at it, it doesn't really help matters. I know it'll all become second nature for me in no time, so I shall stay positive and persevere!

The more time I spend at Teck the more I think how amazing the place is and the guys who run the place. Some jobs up there are so dangerous and so crappy, and they go everyday and work in these environments and on these complicated machines that run 24/7. Teck is like New York; "the city that never sleeps", expect it's not technically a city since there's no fancy restaurants or tourists with cameras around their necks

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

Today is a very special day; Mothers Day! The one day a year that we all call up mom to tell her how much we love her (the most phone calls are made all year are on Mothers Day), and to let her know how much she means to us. Obviously we should do this every day since moms are incredible people who go above and beyond what most people expect of a human being, just to make sure that we are taken well care of. Just think of all of the stress that we put our mom through when we grow up! First of all, there's being born. Now if that isn't stressful then everything else should be a piece of cake. Then there's the worry of falling out of trees, falling off our bikes, the first day of school (my mom bawled like a baby when she sent me off on the school-bus for the first time), getting in fights, being sick, dating, driving, broken-hearts, moving out on our own...the list goes on and on and will never end because our moms never stop worrying about us. Mine won't anyway.

How my mom ever put up with me, I'll never know. The stories she could tell about having to raise me and trying not to let myself get injured, that would take days to tell. I think my personal favourite might be when I escaped from the yard, only to let her find me dangling by my fingertips by the shed roof while there were windows drying directly underneath me. I'm sure I took a few years off her life when she saw me hanging there. Sorry Mom. I really should open up a bank account to start saving for the amount of money they must have spent on gas to take me constantly to the hospital, and of course for band aids and polysporin. My poor mom. If I am ever forced to have kids, I really hope that I don't have one like me. If my mom wasn't such a good mom, I'd probably be dead right now...or at least without a limb or two.

So, to everyone reading this blog today, please call your mom and tell her how much you love her and appreciate her. Give her a great big hug too if you can. And I mean a really good hug that lasts for a good amount of time. I'm very sure that she deserves it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Teck, Training and Terrifying Students

I don’t know where to even begin with this blog. They say to just start at the beginning and go from there, so I guess that is what I am going to have to do. This could take a while.

Ok, so on Wednesday I had my first day at Cominco (or Teck, depending on how familiar you are with the company). Since most of the people who read this blog are from PEI or the Maritimes, I will give a quick overview of what this company is. Teck is Canada’s biggest mining and mineral processing company. It owns a whole bunch of mines all over the world and has the coal shipped to Trail where it is taken to its designated area and it is processed. The company in Trail mostly focuses on zinc and lead, and is one of the world’s largest zinc and lead smelting refineries. Teck actually provided all of the metal to create the Olympic metals in Vancouver this year. Pretty cool little tidbit of information there for all of you. Basically they make millions of dollars a day by producing tons of different kinds of metals. The company hires about 50 students every summer as summer relief for the workers who work there, pays them all very well and dispose of them when school starts up again in the fall. Sounds good.

Like I mentioned, Wednesday was my first day up on the hill. It was a rather boring day to say the least. The first half of the day consisted of signing lots of documents, such as tax forms, proof of WHMIS, assurance that we will not ask for a job at the end of the summer, we can’t sue if we chop off an arm, how much money our beneficiaries get if we are killed…you know, the important stuff. After that was all complete, we were lead to the “Special Training Area” where we sat for the second half of the day and listened to people talk about safety and all of the free courses that are available to us, plus we got fit for our respirators and safety glasses….and so on and so forth. There are 5 pieces of equipment that is mandatory to work in any of the plants up there; hard-hat, coveralls, eye protection, safety boots and ½ face respirator. I have to admit; I look pretty sexy in the get-up. It was a moderately straight forward first day. After work I headed up to Pam’s house and we took the dogs for a walk down the mountain. She showed me some awesome paths that I wasn’t aware of which decreased my one hour and 33 minute hike down to one hour and 20 minutes. After I got home I went straight to town to go to yoga with Sarah and Aunt Leslie. Busy day!

Day number two of training was a bit of a drag. What Teck wants to drill into our heads is that safety is the #1 priority of the company and that the last thing that they want is to have a student hurt or killed during their time there. We did course after course and quiz after quiz that day. Here’s a quick overview of what I got trained in that day: Field Level Risk Assessment, Green Hands Program, Union and Safety, Safety Program, Environmental Awareness, EtQ Document Control, Corrective Actions and Training Systems, WHMIS and MSI. There was a lot of sitting yesterday. My butt was less than happy by the end of it. After I got off work I took Rizzo for a nice walk and did some Kempo X to get my body moving. Sitting for 8 hours straight sucks!

So today was day 3, which consisted of Lockout Training (very confusing as first, but I eventually got the hang of it by the end of the day), Asbestos Awareness and a Lost Youth video, which was basically a movie to scare us into not doing something stupid on the job and to ensure that we always ask questions if we are unaware of what to do in a situation. We also got fitted for our coveralls and shower sandals, and were shown where our lockers would be. Some people had to go to the clinic to get blood tests done to watch blood lead levels throughout their time at Teck. Breathing in lead is a HUGE problem up at there, so they take blood tests of the people who will be working within close proximity of lead, and continue to take samples while they are employed to ensure that blood lead levels don’t get into a dangerous range. As a kid, I remember times when we couldn’t run outside at recess/lunch because there was so much lead/pollution in the air that they didn’t want us breathing hard because that would cause us to breathe in more of the deadly dust in the air. Pretty scary stuff! Nowadays there are so many more restrictions and regulations that have made the company cut way back on what they can pour into the air for the community to breathe it. I think that all kids are allowed to run these days . So that was my today.

There are a lot of things about Teck that have impressed me since I began my employment there. Growing up in the area, I always had the thought that Cominco was always just this big dirty place that made metals, stunk of the town and polluted the air. Yeah, my dad has worked there since he graduated high school and it was his paycheck from that place that fed us and kept a room over our heads, but I never really truly respected the place until now. Sounds a bit silly or whatnot, but it’s true. The guys who work up there have difficult and scary jobs and they do it day in and day out to the very best of their capabilities. We heard horror story after horror story of the awful things that can happen to a person if they’re not careful in the workplace, and it was scary to hear what happens to these people. I always thought that Cominco was intimidating to look at when I drive by; but now that I am involved in it and get to go into the buildings and see what’s going on, it’s even more scary!!! There are walls made out of pure asbestos in that place! I liked watching the videos that showed how metals such as silver, gold and zinc are separated and created into bars, which are in turn sold to other companies. It’s a cool process.

On my first day of training, one of the first things that I noticed was the huge difference between the types of people teaching me this stuff compared to the professors who teach me material at school. The guys who are training us as Teck are men who started working there when they are in their late teens and after 30 years of working as tradesmen for the company have moved into training new and existing employees. They’re not highly educated men and they use everyday slang and simple words to explain everything to us. It was like listening to my dad talk for 8 hours. It was fun and refreshing to listen to these men rather than the professors who use big fancy words all day. The only big words that came out was when we looked into the MSDSs for certain chemicals and compounds which could be found on the lot.

Honestly, I can chatter on and on about the cool things I learned and saw the past couple days, but one thing that was truly interesting that we discussed quickly was how the heavy water needed to create the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was produced in the heavy water plant in Trail. Heavy water is similar to regular water except that is has more deuterium (heavy hydrogen) and is 11% denser and is a major component of nuclear energy. I won’t begin to pretend that I understand how it all works. If anyone reading this has a spare couple of minutes, look up "Manhattan Project" and have a quick read. It's really interesting.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Calorie Delusion

The chiropractor that I am seeing subscribes to this magazine called “New Scientist”, and I must confess that I arrive at his office early just so that I can sit for a few minutes and read an article or two before I am called in. This magazine contains information from articles from all different scientific journals which are deemed to be important, which allows people to keep up to date on current events in the science world. The last article that I read was really interesting and I thought I would share some of the key points of it. The article is called “The Calorie Delusion” and the cover of this particular issue of the magazine was really intriguing; it had a picture of two identical hamburgers and it said, “These burgers are identical…but one will make you fatter.” I thought, "Huh?"

What they went into explaining is how some nutrition fact labels may be off by up to 25% of the calorie content. Think about that for a minute. If all nutrition labels were off by 25%, then that could be a huge amount of calories depending on the product. Something that holds 80kcals might actually contain 100kcals (or 60kcals), which means that a person would be consuming 20 extra calories (or 20 less) with the one product. Taking in an extra 20kcals than you need per day for a year can contribute to an increase in one kg of fat accumulation in that year. At first when I started to get into the article I thought, “Oh great! Time to freak people out by making them think that they’re eating more calories than they realize.” But the more that I read, the more I began to see where they were coming from. You see, they explained how the way they analyze the calorie content of food is way outdated (created in the 19th century) and do not take into consideration the variable of digestion (the energy needed to break down and move food along the GI tract).

Something especially worthy of note is the fact that something like a brownie may have fewer calories than a muesli bar, but since the muesli bar is full of protein and fiber, it will use more energy to digest it and there will be less calories actually absorbed, which in turn should lower the caloric content of the bar. Makes sense?? They also said that foods that are softer tend to hold a higher caloric content because the body will be able to absorb more calories since the body will use less energy to break it down. There was a study that was carried out which proved that people who eat firmer foods tend to have smaller waistlines. So eat your raw vegetables people!!!

So back to the identical hamburgers on the cover of the magazine. The more cooked the patty of the burger is, the higher the caloric content the meat holds. Sounds crazy right? Well it’s not. The longer the patty is cooked, the more the proteins in the meat are broken down which makes it easier to digest; therefore the body is able to absorb more calories from the meat. If the meat is rawer then the GI tract had to work harder to break down the proteins and more of the meat is able to be passed through the body untouched and unabsorbed. I guess this means that the bloodier your steak is, the better it is for you. Gross.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What a Pain in the Neck

When I was about 4 or 5 years old, I was riding a tricycle in my neighbours back yard and managed to ride it right off of a wall and into the lower area of the yard. It was about a 6 foot fall and ended up messing up my neck which would affect me from that moment on. I did initially go to a chiropractor to try to help with the neck problems, but somewhere along the line I stopped going (probably because I quit everything I do) and just learned how to deal with the faulty neck. I’ve learned ways to avoid triggering my neck into severe pain (which always involves horrible headaches), but the night before I left PEI I messed it up good just by sitting with my head resting on Chris’s shoulder while watching an episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. That was enough to prompt a massive headache that I have now had for nearly 2 weeks.

I officially decided that enough is enough and that living with this neck is just stupid. So, I made an appointment to get a complete head and neck transplant. What they do is sever my head and replace it with another head (hopefully better looking!), with a final result of no more neck and head pain. Kidding, kidding. I made an appointment to see a chiropractor in hope of finding some long-term relief. On Friday was the initial visit in which we talked about my history and he took a good look at my damage and decrepit body. I think it was a bad sign when he looked at my alignment and said “so you’re right handed,” and I said “nope, left handed”, and he replied with, “oh….that’s bad then.” Great. Just what I wanted to hear. My body is so messed up that the dude assumed I was right handed because my crappy posture told him so. Awesome. But I had a very informative session with him and he explained some interesting facts about the spine and tendons and all kinds of awesome biological reasons for my screwed up body. Biology is awesome. If I wasn’t in Nutrition, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would be going for a Biology major.

So as of now, the game plan is to go visit the chiropractor a few times a week in hopes of making some major progress on my problems. I’ve already gone twice this week already and plan to make at least one more appointment this week (if the work schedule allows). I know that this will be a life-long process of constantly going in for adjustments and keeping myself in check, but it will be worth it to be rid of my aches and pains that have been plaguing me since I was a kid. That would be lovely indeed.

Holy Crap. I start work tomorrow! I’ll admit that’s it’s been lovely being able to be such a slacker for so long, but the time has come for me to get back out there and actually make some money instead of just burning through it as I have been. I’m a bit nervous to start work because I have no idea what to expect and I know that I’ll be doing work that I have never done before, so it will be 100% new. On the flip side, I’ll be doing something 100% new which is exciting!

Monday, May 3, 2010

This Just In...

After the pre-wedding weekend I just experienced, coincidentally enough it's Wrecky Wedding Week on Cake Wrecks!!! A full week long roller coaster event of pictures of wedding cakes gone wrong. I'm so excited! I'm guessing that since May is here and wedding season is in full swing that there's just no better way to celebrate... which I completely agree with. Please check it out. Here's a couple to whet your appetite for disastrous wedding cakes. I love it

They are also showing amazing wedding cakes as well. I must mention that as well. They may not be as funny but they are beautiful and I suggest admiring them while you take a look at the uglies.

Calorie Free Weekend

I'm glad to announce that it is Monday. It was a very busy weekend to say the least. Friday night was Sarah’s bridal shower. There was a fairly decent turn out of people which was nice considering the mass amount of food that was prepared for the event. Oh, and just for the record, this was my calorie free weekend. At no time this weekend was I allowed to think about or be concerned about the obscene amount of calories that entered my mouth during the 48 hour period. My conscience just wouldn’t be able to handle the guilt. Anyway, the bridal shower went well. Sarah got some pretty rad gifts and she wasn’t too overwhelmed by all of the people there to celebrate her engagement/wedding. We had this one game going in which everyone had their names written on a piece of paper which were all put into a bag, and throughout the night we would randomly draw a name. The winner would have to come up to the front of the room and share a story about Sarah, and then the person would get a gift. A couple tear jerker moments were created that night, but some pretty hilarious stories were revealed to the crowd as well. I really wanted to have my name drawn because I had a story ready and waiting to share with everyone…but alas. My name was not pulled out. I figured it would be nice to tell everyone that my name is tattooed on Sarah’s bum. True story. Overall, after the guests all left and we cleaned up the hall, the night was proclaimed a success. Night #1….done.

So the following day was the bachelorette party up at Aunt Leslie’s house (just to note, Aunt Leslie is Sarah’s aunt, but I’ve called her Aunt Leslie since the beginning of time). The event started at about 7pm, but I went up early to help Leslie set up everything. Well, technically I first had to help with the putting together of Leslie’s costume since she was undecided on a few things…but we got that all in line in no time. School-girl outfits can be tricky sometimes. How short do I REALLY want the skirt? Should I wear shorts underneath? Do I want to be slutty school-girl or smart school-girl? Am I wearing too much plaid for the occasion? These are very real and difficult questions that one must ask herself.

After getting our outfits in line, we set up the food and welcomed the lovely lady who was heading the sex party aspect of the party. The guests started arriving around 7ish and we quickly busted into the booze and food. Once we were all introduced and a bit more relaxed, the sex party aspect of the evening began. In case anyone doesn’t know what a “sex party” is, there’s a woman who comes to your house and she sets up a little display in your house of various items. Depending on the type of party, she may have lingerie, lubricants, massage oils, bath salts, sex toys….all or any of the above plus lots lots more. Then one by one, each item is described and discussed with the group until all items have been shown. After everyone had a few more drinks and a bit more riled up, one by one each person at the party has the chance to go into a private room and purchase desired items from the party. It’s a whole lot of fun these things; especially when most of the women in the room have had several margaritas already. (PS. Aunt Leslie…you make amazing margaritas. Cut off points are hard to find when the Margarator comes out to play).

While people were making their private purchases, I went and got the amazingly delicious cake that Aunt Leslie had made up for the party. It was half chocolate, half vanilla and filled with vanilla cream. YUMMM! Oh, did I mention that there was a giant chocolate penis on top of the cake? That cake was quite the show piece. The rest of the evening went fairly smoothly. Captain Pecker made an appearance, as expected (he’s a gigantic inflatable penis). After most of the expendable guests left, a large group of us headed down to the Smelter Pub for some drinks and crappy music. We kept requesting better music, but the DJ just couldn’t please us. The place was pretty dead since there was the Bullarama in town that night, which means that most of Trail was the hoedown going on at the arena. No drunk cowboys for us! But we did have the pleasure of watching these three girls dancing who just might have been the worst dancers that any of us have ever seen. I give them credit for going up there and doing their thing…but it was bad. The ring-leader of the trio was wearing the shortest shorts you can wear without a Brazilian, and she just may have been the worst of them all. It was entertaining for sure.

So, lots of booze and some key footage for Girls Gone Wild later, we all headed in our separate directions for the evening. I’m very glad that I did not wear heels that night like most of the other ladies did.

Tip of the Day: Always plan ahead. Wearing heels on a night in which there may be copious amounts of drinking and dancing is not the greatest idea. Think.

Night #2…done.

Sunday was recovery day.