Thursday, January 24, 2008

We are the Champions!

I have learned this week, that union school is not only about organizing, solidarity and the bettering of working people everywhere, it is also a long-standing institution steeped in tradition.

Last night I experienced the pinnacle of these traditions; Harrison Winter School Choir.

At school, each course is required to participate in two activities; Wolleyball, and the choir. The winners of the Wolleyball tournament were announced last night, and scores were based on a combination of immense skill and style. There could be no doubt that we would take the trophy... and we did!! We were overjoyed, and felt slightly less guilty for starting all those rumours in the hot tub about our athletic prowess.

The Choir competition went a bit like this...

Each class had their turn to get up on stage and perform an original hit to the music of a recognizable song. There was some Joplin, Beatles, Monkeys, Cash, and of course, our very own submission; 'We are the Union' formerly by Queen.

Now, the trick is, you really don't want to win this competition. The winners are required to sing again at the dinner dance tonight, and it's sooo not worth it. So, most teams aim for a solid 4th place, and we thought that was a good tactic. Our choir leader Brenda wrote a very short song (34 words-we were given heck for having to bring up song sheets), and we made a plan to dim the lights and do the whole lighter/cell phone concert thing.

The scoring was based on 5 categories, each with a possible 10 points; Harmony, Rhythm, Lyrics, Music and Perspicacity (don't ask).

We thought we had it in the bag- our song was too short and simple to really be any good, and we thought is would be fairly evident we didn't put a whole lot of effort into it. However, if I've learned anything from my course here at Harrison (and I've actually learned alot) it's that it's never a good tactic to assume.

The judge thought we had a hit! We were crushed. Some of us hysterical. How could this have gone so wrong!? We were awarded a 47/50, and our closest competition so far had been 39/50. (one class got a 9.)

The next half hour was extremely tense as we crossed our fingers and prayed to the gods that some other class would get a better score. A few were close, but nearing the end of the evening, with 2 classes to go, we were still in the lead.

The Health and Safety class was second to last to receive their scores. First, a 9... then a 10... then another ten (we start getting really hysterical at this point...) and another... the final score he pondered and had us to the absolute edge of our seats until he announced another 10! We Lost!!! And we've never been soo happy!

So, a first at Wolleyball and second at Choir. You can't do any better that that! (or at least nobody wants to.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

CLC Harrison Winter School Day 1

Yesterday, I hung around outside in frigid weather, wearing a swimsuit, a shower cap, and an inflatable zebra.

I also drank cheap red wine (the kind that comes out of a box) in a hot springs with several hundred other people.

And a little old Austrian woman saw me naked.

Well, almost.

Winter school is going very well. Our class is jelling fairly well, and the material so far has been interesting, if a bit dated. I find myself actually looking forward to arguing case studies later this week.

After general sessions last night (the NDP's David Chudnovsky, Opposition Critic for Homelessness and Mental Health), we had a strange team building exercise. It's called Wolleyball, and it's a Harrison school tradition. It's something that resembles a bunch of nutcases in costumes playing what could resemble water volleyball... if you squinted your eyes a little and peeked through your fingers. Of course, I participated, and my team, 'About Face' was the best. According to us, anyway.

After the competition, we all settled into the hot tubs to relax. I have to say, 1 glass of wine + 2 hrs in a hot tub = equivalent of 6 glasses of wine.

I also skipped dinner last night and treated myself to a luxurious hot stone massage at the spa. My little old Austrian masseuse worked from the tip of my toes to the top of my head for over an hour. All I can say is aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

CLC Winter School at Harrison Hot Springs

Today I arrived in Harrison Hot Springs to attend a course on Facing Management being given by the Canadian Labour Congress's Winter School. As a Newbie, I went to an orientation, then had a very nice dinner buffet (Sean- you would have hated it- it was 75% vegetable), perused the Union trade show and listened to several opening addresses, including one by Jim Sinclair; President of the British Columbia Labour Congress. That guy rocks. Every time I hear him speak (or rather, rant and shout and otherwise apostrophize) he riles me up and makes me believe that with a little work, we could do anything. Well, it's going to be a looong week, and alot of work, but here's to making things happen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Rock & Rich

Concerts always seem better when you're stoned. You start feeling the music and tasting the colours, and all of a sudden you're having a really great time.

That's not to say I plan to get stoned when I go to a concert, but out here in BC, at many concerts, all you have to do is show up and breathe and you're done. You might be feeling pretty good, but the guy behind you (and four seats to the left, and two rows ahead, and across the isle, and...) must be pretty out of it.

There is probably too much pot at concerts out here; it keeps alot of people away from events. But alas, that is another post.

So, last night a few friends and I went to the Emerson Drive, Terri Clarke and Big & Rich concert. Emerson Drive were pretty good, Terri Clarke was awesome and Big and Rich were... entertaining.

Big & Rich are a strange bastardization of country and hard rock and rap. They came on to the stage wearing mad hatter top hats, rhinestone studded wranglers and cowboy shirts and of course, floor length fur coats. They looked ridiculous, but they looked Rich. They also brought their friend Cowboy Troy; a black cowboy rapper who has gotten a little chunky and could stand to buy a bigger pair of pants. During the concert, they dropped streamers and confetti from the ceiling, and threw dollar bills out into the crowd. The finale included burning and smashing guitars, as well as their dancing midget mascot; Two-Foot Fred. Yes, he really is two feet tall, but they give him his very own throne.

I went solely to see Terri, who put on an awesome show. She played all her hits as well as a couple new songs from her upcoming album. She had a great dialogue with the audience and a wonderful stage presence. Her guitarist was fantastic. I would have paid the same to see just her.

Big & Rich surpassed my expectations, if not in talent, then in showmanship. They were truly entertaining. Or maybe that was just all the pot smoke I breathed in.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Eat, Medicate and Be Very Merry!

Yesterday was our quasi-Christmas. We got up early, opened presents (I've been spoiled), ate brunch, then back to the grindstone! Sean & I both tidied up a bit in preparation for our guests, and the place looks great. I also cooked for 2 days straight, so it sure smells like Christmas.

Dinner went very well. We had my parents, brother & sister over, as well as several friends, for a total of 10. We had to borrow a card table and some chairs to accommodate everybody. We had a turkey and a ham, Brayford & Quinn stuffing (which Sean said was just about perfect except not enough sage- who would've guessed?), potato, cheese & bacon tarte, sweet potato & apple casserole, green bean casserole, pureed squash, peas, homemade cranberry sauce, homemade mustard, and of course gravy (which I am not in the least ashamed to admit comes out of a box. There you have it.). God I love to entertain. We have sooo many leftovers, but I'm fairly sure the stuffing will be gone by the end of the day.

Woke up this morning with a cold. You know, the wonderful kind that makes you leech goo from every facial orifice and feel pretty generally shitty. Though, I would not, at first, admit it was a cold, and insisted I must be allergic to something. So, I took a couple anti-histamines and am now as high as a kite. So I guess I have a cold because I'm also still leeching goo.

Tomorrow we both start our diet. Sean has insisted we follow it to the letter (no doubt to punish me for getting him to diet in the first place) and so for the next two weeks (at least!!!) I CAN'T HAVE ANY COFFEE OR PEPSI! Should make for an interesting couple of weeks.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Very Quick, Super-Abreviated, Update.

Sean & I had a very nice Christmas with his family in New Brunswick. We split our stay between his Sister & Brother in-law's place in Fredericton, and his Parents' place in Stickney. Sean got to see his family, whom he misses very much, and I got to know my various in-laws better, and hone my cribbage losing skills (I promise to practise for next year Don!). Of course, hanging out with our nephew was a blast too, and I have to admit I still find myself humming the Backyardigans theme every once in a while.

Getting home was tricky; our first flight was canceled, and it sounds like we might have been the last flight out of the airport before the next storm hit. The plane for the main leg of the flight was awesome, and made the hours whiz by.

Today, I've been shopping and cooking and cleaning in preparations for our Un-Christmas dinner. I'm trying to do all the sides today, so I only have to worry about the turkey tomorrow. I'm trying out a dish from the cookbook my Sister in-law gave me for Christmas- should be a crowd pleaser- there's lots of bacon in it.

A great big thank-you to all our family out in NB- thanks for putting us up, and putting up with us! It was a wonderful Christmas.