Category Archives: Travel

Korea Bucket List

And now, things I still HAVE TO DO before returning to Canada (if it’s crossed out, it means it’s booked and paid for, but not achieved just yet; italics means it’s planned)…

Korea Bucket List (Still To Do):

  • Hiking:
    • Taebaeksan
    • Odaesan
    • Sobaeksan
    • Seoraksan – Dino (Gongryong) ridge
  • Cities:
    • Wonju
      • Hanji theme park
    • Seoul
      • Deoksugung
      • Leeum Samsung Museum of Art
      • Naksan and Public Art
      • Gwangjang Market (have I done this?)
      • Myeong-dong Cathedral (have I done this?)
      • Seoul Forest
      • Buamdong
      • Two more palaces
      • Samsung D’Light
    • Busan
      • Gamcheon Village in Busan
      • Aquarium – shark diving?
      • UN Memorial Cemetery
      • Samkwang Temple
      • Beomeosa Temple
      • Geumjeongsanseong Fortress
      • Dongnae Hot Springs
      • National Maritime Museum
      • Busan Museum
      • Nurimaru and Haeundae Beach walk
      • Busan Citizen Park
      • Bokcheon Museum
      • Amnam Park
      • Amisan Observatory
      • Eulsukdo Eco Centre and sculpture park
      • Busan night tour (Suyeong River, Geumryeonsan, and Marine City)
      • Haeundae shooting range
      • Busan Cinema Center
      • BEXCO
    • Ulsan
    • Incheon
    • Gimhae
    • Jinju (Chok-suk Pavilion)
    • Gyeongju (Gampo’s the ancient Twin Pagodas of Gaeunsa Temple and the underwater tomb of King Munmu)
    • Inje (Min’s Cabin and tofu with seawater?)
    • Yangyang – Naksanguk temple
  • Other Places:
    • Islands
      • Muuido
      • Namhae
      • Bajindo
      • Saryangdo
    • Kwanghan Pavilion
    • Garden of the Morning Calm in spring/summer
    • House of Sharing
  • Food and Drink:
    • Eat live octopus? larvae?
  • CNN stuff (maybes):
    • Ggotji Beach (near Boryeong)
    • Darangee Village (southern tip)
    • Upo Marsh (go from Busan)
    • Daegwallyeong Ranch (Gangwon)
    • Seryang-Je in Hwasun
    • Seomjin River Train Village
    • Cheongsando
    • Young-san River
    • Yongam Temple
    • Suncheon Bay
    • Sambuyeon Falls (Gangwon)
    • Gobungun, Changyeong
    • Wanggungri
    • Soyang Lake (Gangwon)

Republic of Korea UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
Gyeongju
Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmens
Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple
Haeinsa Temple
Jongmyo Shrine
Changdeokgung Palace Complex
Hwaseong Fortress
Jeju
Royal Joseon Tombs
Hahoe and Yangdong
Namhansanseong
Baekje Historic Areas

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A Pretty Fantastic Half-Year

My god, it’s been a long time. In my defence, a lot’s been happening in the last 6/7 months, after moving to South Korea to teach English. I’m working on a Bucket List for my last 5 months in this wonderful and under-appreciated place, but for now, here’s what I’ve done so far…

Korea Bucket List (Awesome Things I’ve Done):

  • School Experiences:
    • Taught full-time at 4 different schools:
      • High School: Yukminkwan (moving classrooms)
      • Middle School: Sangji Girl’s School and Shillim (my own English Zone!)
      • Elementary School: Seoguk
    • Taught winter camp at Dun Dun Elementary and Yukminkwan Middle Schools
    • Played saxophone in band with Korean students (!!!)
  • Festivals:
    • Busan Fireworks Festival
    • Seoul Lantern Festival
    • Taebaek Snow Festival
    • Hwacheon Ice Festival
    • Maehwa Blossom Festival (delicious maesil ice cream!)
    • Jindo Sea Parting Festival
    • Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
    • Nonsan Strawberry Festival
    • Gwangalli Eobang Festival
    • Icheon Pottery Festival
    • Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival
    • Wonju Rose Festival
    • Boryeong Mud Festival
    • 70th Independence Day Celebrations
  • Hiking:
    • Chiaksan (Birobong Peak and Ipseoksa Temple, the beautiful Guryongsa Temple with mom, dad, and Mr. Kim; Birobong Peak via Ipseoksa Temple, Seryempokpo Falls, and Gyegokgil Valley with Yeollin Taekwondo)
    • Seoraksan (Daechungbong Peak and Chunbuldong Valley; cable car to Gwongeumseong, Sinheungsa Temple, and short hike past the Gyejoam Hermitage to Heundeulbawi and Ulsanbawi Rocks)
    • Jirisan (Nogodan Peak and Piagol Valley – stunning; my favourite hike so far; Cheonwangbong Peak)
    • Mindungsan (with the YMK Teacher Hiking Club)
    • Deokyusan snow hike (Hyangjeokbong Peak)
    • Inwangsan and Bugaksan (Seoul Fortress Hike)
    • Daedunsan (Geumgang suspension bridge and the terrifying Samseon stairway)
    • Hallasan (Seongpanak trail – aka “Endless way of patience” – to Dongneung Peak) and Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak on Jeju
    • Bukhansan (Baegundae Peak)
  • Skiing:
    • High 1
    • Yongpyong (my favourite – plus, 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics!) and Peak Island Water Park
    • Phoenix Park and Muju (seen the resort)
  • Cities:
    • Wonju
      • Chiaksan National Park
      • Guryongsa Temple
      • Nambu Market
      • Lotte Cinema street
      • Doggie cafes
      • Herb and Rose Garden Christmas Lights
      • Rose Festival
      • Park Kyongni Literature Park
      • Museum SAN and Oak Valley
    • Seoul
      • Everland
      • Lotteworld and Folk Museum
      • Kimchi making!
      • Fortress hike (Dongdaemun (East Gate) to Seodaemun (West Gate)) and Seodaemun Prison Museum
      • Inwangsan Mountain, Seonamjeong Temple, Inwangsan Guksadang (shrine), and Seonbawi (a literally hole-y rock)
      • Dongdaemun market
      • Myeongdong
      • Namdaemun Gate and market
      • Ping Pong Party!
      • Insadong and Ssamji-gil
      • Poo Cafe
      • Tapgol Pagoda Park
      • Olympic Park and Stadium
      • Namsan Park (and Korean traditional fighting performance) and N Seoul Tower hike
      • N Seoul Tower and Cable Car at night (with Nataly and Kevin)
      • COEX Aquarium
      • Nanta!
      • Seoul National Palace Museum
      • National Museum of Korea
      • National Folk Museum of Korea
      • Jogyesa Temple
      • Banpo (Rainbow) Bridge and fireworks
      • Gyeongbokgung Palace and changing of the guard
      • Changgyeonggung Palace
      • Ginseng Center
      • Cheonggyecheon Stream (with and without lanterns!)
      • Independence Gate
      • Bukchon Hanok Village
      • Namsangol Hanok Village
      • National Cemetery
      • Hongdae (and spent a night out)
      • Gwanghawmun Square (statue of Sejong the Great)
      • Seen the Blue House
      • Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty (Seonjeongneung)
      • Bongeunsa Temple
      • Hello Kitty Cafe
      • Sheep Cafe (The Thank Nature Cafe)
      • 63 City Building (beautiful views, Sky Art Hall, IMAX, and Sea World)
      • Yeouido Hangang Park
      • The floating islands, known collectively as Some Sevit (Island 1: Vista – Some Gavit, Island 2: Viva – Some Chavit, Island 3: Terra – Some Solvit, and Some Yevit Media Art Gallery)
      • CNN Cafe
      • Kimchi Museum
      • Hanbok Cafe in Insadong
      • Dongguk University Campus (main stadium Buddhist Cheer Rally)
      • Changdeokgung Palace and Secret Garden
      • Ewha Womens’ University Campus
      • War Memorial of Korea
      • Jongmyo Shrine
      • Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Culture Park
      • Yongsan Electronics Market
      • Yongma Land
      • Namhansanseong – visited the Emergency Temporary Palace, Gaewonsa Temple, and Fortress Wall (hiked from 2nd South Outwork to East Gate)
      • Korea House – royal court dinner and performance
      • Gangnam
        • Shopping
        • Sinsadong (Dore Dore rainbow cake and K Star Road)
      • Lotte World Mall and 1600 Pandas
      • City Hall
      • Dragon Hill Spa
      • Deulmusae Restaurant (Penis restaurant in Pocheon – Seoul-adjacent)
    • Busan
      • Gwangalli and Haeundae Beaches
      • Gwang-An (Diamond) Bridge fish festival with mom and dad!
      • Haedong Yonggunsa Temple
      • Busan Tower (Yongdusan Park)
      • Spaland
      • Jagalchi Market
      • Taejongdae Park
      • Busan Harbour Bridge
      • Oryukdo Islets
      • Hwangryeongsan Bongsudae (the peak at Mt. Hwangryeong)
    • Gyeongju (old capital)
      • Bike tour
      • Daereungwon Tombs
      • Cheomseongdae Observatory
      • Bulguksa Temple
      • Seokguram Grotto
      • Anapji Pond
    • Gwangju (5/18 Memorial)
    • Changwon (Kyeong-Wha Station and Yeojwa stream in Jinhae)
    • Jeonju Folk Village (church, bibimbap, museum, city overview hike)
    • Sokcho (Abai North Korean Village and rope boat) 2015 New Year Sunrise
    • Yangyang (Naksan Beach)
    • Gangneung (Gyeongpo Beach, Tongil Unification Park and Warship Pavilion)
    • Daejeon (KT Estates for orientation)
    • Daegu (Seomun Market, Suseong Lake, Eworld and Tower 83, Duryu Park, CatDog Cafe, and delicious eats downtown)
    • Suwon (Hwaseong Fortress hike and trolley; Mr. Toilet House and Haewoojae Culture Centre)
    • Icheon (ceramics with a master’s son, and a pottery festival)
    • Chuncheon (whatever we did on that first day; Gangchon Rail Bike, regional dakgalbi, and Gugok Falls)
    • Samcheok (Downtown, Samchoek Beach, and Haesindang Penis Park with Nataly and Kevin; Jangho Fishing Village snorkeling and glass-bottom-boating, and Hwanseongul Cave)
    • Danyang (Gosu Caves)
    • Yeongwol (Donggang River Rafting)
    • Andong Hahoe Folk Village and mask museum
  • Other Places:
    • Jeju Island
      • Loveland!
      • Manganggul Cave
      • Cheonjeyeon and Jeongbang Waterfalls
      • Jusangjeolli Lava Rock Formations
      • Sanbangsan Temple and Dragon Head Cliff (Yongmeori Coast)
      • Jungmun, Hamdoek, and Hyeupjae Beaches
      • Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (Sunrise Crater) and Hallasan Hike!
      • Udo Island beaches, peanut makgeolli, peanut ice cream, and Olle Trail walk
      • Women clam divers (Haenyeo)
    • Nami Island (or the micronation of Naminara)
      • Zip-wire entry, row-boating, and strolling
    • Geoje Island
      • Windy Hill, Sinseondae Pebble Beach and rock formations, and Haegeumgang Theme Museum
      • Botanical gardens I can’t find the name of (no, not Oedo’s gardens), ATVing up Gyeryongsan Mountain, and forest paintball
    • Ulleungdo Island
      • Island tour (temples, beaches, and rock formations)
      • Lighthouse hike
      • Dokdo museum
      • Dokdo Island
    • Gapyeong
      • Nami Island
      • Pension
      • Garden of the Morning Calm
      • Cheongpyeong River Land Bungee Jump!!
      • Petite France
    • Boseong Green Tea fields (plus green tea making and green tea chocolate making, and adorable puppies!)
    • Damyang Bamboo Forest (bamboo ice cream!)
    • Christmas lights at the Garden of the Morning Calm
    • The DMZ (Imjingak in Paju and Cheorwon areas, and Nuri Peace Park, and the 3rd tunnel)
    • Bugok Hawaii Hot Springs and Buddhist Hell
    • Haeinsa Temple in Hapcheon
    • The JSA (Panmunjom, Camp Bonifas, the Bridge of No Return, Freedom House, and a step into North Korea)
  • Other Experiences:
    • Ran the Chiak Marathon 10k (only foreigner there!)
    • Went to the Taekwondo Center (Taekwondowon) in Jeollabuk-do
    • Saw a Korean baseball game (Doosan Seoul Bears!)
    • Saw a Korean basketball game (Dongbu Promy Wonju!)
    • Saw a Korean jazz concert and opera at Chiak Art Center
    • Saw a movie in a Korean theatre (Kingsman at CGV- I demand more Firth!; Mad Max at Lotte Cinema)
    • Stayed overnight in a folk village (Naganeupseong Folk Village in Suncheon)
    • Stayed in a jimjilbang (several, at this point!)
    • Temple stay at Seonamsa (traditional vegetarian breakfast, forest hike, tea with a monk, 108 prostrations, and bead-making!)
    • Winetrain (tasting and footbath) and Korean Traditional Instruments Museum (and show!)
    • Dog cafes! And now a cat cafe, too! And sheep!
    • Taekwando lessons at Yeollin Taekwondo!
    • Stayed in a Love Motel
    • Paragliding above Seongju Forest Reserve
    • ATVing up a mountain
    • Paintball in the forests of Geoje
    • Took the KTX, finally!
    • Practiced archery in Suwon (aka “archery archery OH MY GOD ARCHERY”!!!)
    • SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY AT JAMSIL OLYMPIC STADIUM!! #OUTTHERE
    • Saw the awe-inspiring “Galapagos” narrated by David Attenborough in IMAX
    • Got done up in traditional Korean hair and makeup and tried on traditional Korean hanbok for a photoshoot
    • Had a Luxury Movie Experience (Spy at Megabox)
    • Became an honorary agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Exhibit
    • Traveled with WinK, Meetup, Seoul Hiking Group, and Adventure Korea
    • Saw Jurassic World in 4D (CGV)
    • Got a selfie stick!
    • Stayed in a goofy themed pension for an hour, then got kicked out for not being part of a couple! (The dumb tourist card did not work this time)
    • Went bungee jumping. !!!.
    • Went rafting
    • Mini Mud Marathon, mud slide, mud obstacle course, mud face painting, mud bath and the Boryeong mud flats and beach
    • Went flyboarding!
    • Saw a K-Pop concert (Sistar and others)
  • Foods and Drinks:
    • kimchi
    • shabu shabu
    • pajeon (Korean pizza)
    • spoon pizza
    • Monster Pizza
    • mandu
    • ddeok-guk (rice cake soup)
    • bulgogi and delicious hanoo/hanwoo bulgogi
    • bibimbap, dolsot bibimbap
    • gimbap
    • hanjeongsik
    • samgyetang
    • ddeokbokki
    • dakgalbi
    • doenjang jjigae
    • ramyeon
    • al tang (fish egg and intestine soup)
    • hotteok
    • makgeolli
    • soju
    • takoyaki (octopus)
    • hoeri gamja (tornado potato chips)
    • darggochi (chicken skewer)

Also got to travel to Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #21: Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

21: Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

So in my last post, I kicked off my 100 things/1000 days list, as a sort of implicit New Year’s resolution/show of optimism for feeling much better and more (for a lack of a better term) awake since some time last February.

I’ve been following Jen (from http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/) on her blog http://www.epbot.com/ which, in typical internet fashion, led me to http://bakingdom.blogspot.com/, which brought the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to my attention. I think I vaguely remember hearing something about it back when the rumours first started, but I’d completely forgotten about its existence until this blog entry reminded me that it was vitally important to the living of my life that I see this theme park almost immediately.

Two days later (and about 3 days before the winter break started), my dad phoned me up and asked me, “What do you think about going to Florida for the winter break?”

To which I replied: “[Enormous gasp] OH MY GOD DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S IN FLORIDA?

And that’s how I completed the first thing on this list before I even finished writing it.

___________________________________________________________________

In order to get to HP, we had to walk through the comic book world, the cartoon world, and Jurassic Park, presumably to make sure those attractions got some love too, even if it was involuntary. John William’s score was playing everywhere, which was awesome.

The only two locations in the entire Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogwarts first. It’s what Harry would have done.

It was smaller than we’d thought it would be, but still awesome (much like Stonehenge). The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride makes up basically the entire Hogwarts section. Unfortunately, Michael couldn’t go because of his shoulder injury, and if I’d known it would take over an hour to go through, I wouldn’t have done it without him (while he waited outside in the rain). The lady at the front of the line told us I’d get through in 5 minutes, and could let him know if he could handle it. Except evidently she meant the line to get into the castle was 5 minutes, because even if I had run through the whole exhibit I couldn’t have gotten out in that amount of time.

On the other hand, I know exactly what I would do with this.

On the other hand, I know exactly what I would do with this.

I so wanted one of these, but I couldn't figure out what I would do with it

I so wanted one of these, but I couldn't figure out what I would do with it

Then we went to explore Hogsmede, where “overpriced” isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life. I’m only complaining because I was desperate to get a Marauder’s Map, which I thought (ok, hoped) would be maybe around $20 (you know, like the cost of an entire book), but turned out to be somewhere much nearer $50.

I so wanted to get one of these, but I couldn’t figure out what I would do with it.

It was really cold and windy, so we hid inside the Hog’s Head when it got too cold to continue waiting in lines outside, and tried some Butterbeer (!!!).

Evidently so windy that my brother was unable to hold the camera properly. Sigh. Why is it so hard to get the horizon straight, people?

Evidently so windy that my brother was unable to hold the camera properly. Sigh. Why is it so hard to get the horizon straight, people?

It was not at all bad, but there was so much foam, and it kept on expanding, which was minorly terrifying.

We snacked on a chocolate frog (card = Helga Hufflepuff), explored every last one of the stores (on my command), then decided to call it a day.

Our parents were still out birdwatching at Clearwater by the time we were done, so I took Michael to see Tangled, and he, in turn, took me to see Deathly Hallows, which I still hadn’t managed to watch, and it seemed appropriate.

All-in-all, a great time. Very encouraging way to kick off my list.

(It’s worth it to note: because the weather was crappy – for Florida – and we went early, we did, mostly, beat the lines. We left around lunch-time, which was when the queuing really started to become unmanageable, and were able to cover the entire park in about 3 1/2 hours, although it would have been more if we’d eaten at the Three Broomsticks, which had a massive lineup the entire time we were there.)

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One day, I may figure out how to properly format things on wordpress. Until then, here are some leftover pictures.

San Diego Day 4 – Saturday, February 20th, 2010 unfinished

Well, first I got up and had a piece of toast…

Music-Language Interactions in the Brain: From the Brainstem to Broca’s Area from 3:30 until 5:00

  • Nina Kraus, Northwestern University – Cognitive-Sensory Interaction in the Neural Encoding of Music and Speech
  • Gottfried Schlaug, Harvard Medical School – Singing to Speaking: Observations in Healthy Singers and Patients with Broca’s Aphasia
  • Aniruddh D. Patel, Neurosciences Institute – Music, Language, and Grammatical Processing

jkjk

http://www.aven.com/conf.cfm/cid/1140

San Diego Day 3 – Friday, February 19th, 2010

This morning, I woke up at the unholy hour of 7am (this is why I’m going into freelance), got fancied up, and went to a symposium called “Watching the Watchmen and Cheering the Heroes: The Science of Superheroes,” where the lineup of speakers was as follows:

  • Jennifer Ouellette, National Academy of Sciences – The X-Change Files
  • Jim Kakalios, University of Minnesota – The Physics of “Watchmen,” or Why So Blue, Dr. Manhattan?
  • Sidney Perkowitz, Emory University – Hollywood Science
  • Tim Kring, Independent Writer and Producer – Science: The Real Hero of “Heroes”
  • Nicole King, University of California  – The Evolution of “Heroes”

Unfortunately, I also had a press conference on the effects of chemicals on breast cancer from 10 to 11, so I had to miss some of the talk. And I’ll get to the press conference in a minute.

First, though, I’d like to say that if all the presentations at the AAAS are this good, this is going to be one hell of a week. This talk was interesting, relevant, and entertaining, especially Jim Kakalios’s speach on his job as a science consultant for superhero movies (in particular, Zack Snyder’s Watchmen), incorporating an earlier, popular talk called “Everything I Know About Physics I Learned from Reading Comic Books,” and parts of his books (The Physics of Superheroes, and the newly published The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science that Made Our World) and youtube videos.

In the gigantic book of conference proceedings we picked up yesterday at registration, the summary for this presentation advertised Milo Ventimiglia, and Masi Oka as discussants on the panel, but they stood us up. Instead, Watchmen’s production designer Alex McDowell stepped in. He wasn’t bad, and he certainly new his limitations as an artist surrounded by scientists, but I did find his constant swearing incongruent, seeing as everyone else was speaking very scientifically about the whole thing, and as I’m sure anyone who’s ever taken a high school science class will doubtless know, the word “fuck” appears precisely zero times throughout the course, except in textbook graffiti, or if you have a particularly colourful teacher. My point is, although I have absolutely no problem with swearing (as anyone who’s spent 5 minutes with me can attest), it was REALLY jarring.

And now back to breast cancer.

I have to say, my first press conference was not the exhilerating, life-altering journalistic experience I was expecting it to be. Most of the information presented was later represented at the lecture (which has value if you need to get a story up the minute the lecture ends, I get it, but I didn’t need to, and this is my blog), and at 45 minutes, each press conference left 15 minutes for questions, which here became 10 after the requisite longer-than-expected presentation, and was entirely used up by one snotty British reporter who didn’t let anyone else, including the presenters, get a word in edgewise. So frankly, it felt like a bit of a waste of time. Even the information, about chemicals causing breast cancer (I know, the title of the conference was pretty misleading), was fairly boring to me – chemicals can cause cancer? I’ll alert the media. Oh, wait…

When all that was over, I still wanted to get to Sea World, which closes at 5pm, so I went to one of the shorter topical lectures, this one called “Infectious Diseases Have No Passport: Battling HIV, TB, and STDs on the Mexico-U.S. Border,” given by Steffanie Strathdee.

I’ll admit that my main attraction to this topic is my PERFECTLY REASONABLE fear of Ebola (seriously, if you’re a germaphobe, or a hypochondriac, or a person who lives in Africa, or a normal, sensible human being with a susceptability to deadly viruses, NEVER read The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. Just don’t) – but to be honest, the talk didn’t really touch on that subject.

It was an interesting, if slightly dry talk, and the focus was more on HIV than the other things mentioned in the title. I am only slightly ashamed to note that I may have fallen a bit asleep.

And then I ran to Sea World, which, I’m proud to say, I managed to complete in 3 hours (including 2 shows – Shamu’s “Believe,” and a Sea Lion and Otter show), making an appearence at every. single. exhibit. My dad calls it “Sea World on steroids,” and it is only possible if you go by yourself (no one to hold you back), plan your route (which is an adorable thing to do if you have no sense of direction, but whatever, it passed the time while waiting for Believe to start), and RUN.

When SW closed, I took a bus back to the Old Town, thinking I’d go straight to the hostel, and noticed that even though it was 6, things were still open, and there seemed to be a concert going on. I thought Old Town would be closed at night, but apparently, today was their first day of a spring nighttime celebration, and they’d be open until “8 or 9.”

I walked around Old Town as the sun set, and I have to say, as touristy as it was, it was just a nice place to be. The buildings were the good kind of old fashioned, the shops were fantastic and original local places. I especially liked a certain soap and candle store, and a little square surrounded by restaurants and other smaller shops, including places for wine tasting, olive oil tasting, and hot sauce tasting, but everyone there was fairly old and I couldn’t figure out how to take part, or, more importantly, if it was free, so I just wandered around Old Town, listening to the musicians performing in the centre square – well, this is America, so ‘center’ – and enjoying the night.

The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science that Made Our World

San Diego Day 2 – Thursday, February 18th, 2010 unfinished

Today was not a very big day.

As 4th year journalism students in JOUR 4201D (science reporting), we are required to do a presentation in JOUR 4000A on our specialized reporting topic. Four of us from 4201 were able to make it to San Diego for the AAAS conference (American Association for the Advancement of Science, or, as it says on the bags they handed out, _____________, which, as I’m sure you have noticed, actually stands for ASSS, but I can see why they wouldn’t want to go with that). The theme this year is bridging science and society, an important and worthwhile goal that somehow seems to get harder and harder to achieve even as communication is refined and avenues for information sharing are built. As everything becomes more specialised, it’s hard enough to bridge the gap between different types science within the scientific community itself, to say nothing of between them and society, which can be uneducated, uninterested, or simply and understandably, distracted.

The conference involves symposia, plenary and topical lectures, specialized seminars, poster presentations, and an Exhibit Hall, and, to lucky students like us who had scored press credentials, access to the press room, and all the press briefings and free coffee that comes with.

Press Passes!

The conference begins tomorrow, and ends on Monday (the 22nd), the day we’re supposed to present. So while we were in Ottawa, prepping for the trip, the 4201 class planned how we would approach the presentation with four group members missing, and it was decided that those going to San Diego would film a short video. That video was to involve the conference and the world famous San Diego Zoo, and would be edited by Sunday in order for those back home to incorporate it into their presentation.

We meant to go to the zoo today, before the conference started, and get most of the filming done. I got all dressed up in my sunny San Diego shorts and tank top, my zoo-themed parrot earings, and a lab coat, and was ready to go (I promise there will be no more talk about my clothes after today, except for when I tell you about my sweater. This is not a fashion blog).

San Diego Convention Center

But instead, it turned out that we still had to register for the conference, so Serena and I met up with the boys and our professor, Kathryn O’Hara, at the enormous and impressive San Diego Conference Center, signed in, and collected our assorted swag. However, we waffled so long on the outside patio (and it was a gorgeous day outside, so no hard feelings there), that it was decided there was no point going to the zoo, it was too late, and we’d have to film something else.

Now, I’m sure everyone has their reasons for the way this turned out, and everything ended up fine, but boy was I bitter at the time. After all, this was my last day to do anything big before the conference started, and I had already missed a day due to what I can only assume were some long-expired pot pies, and I’d done nothing but register for a conference I thought I’d already registered for, and sit around and talk. Plus, the other 4201ers were counting on the zoo. I didn’t wear this ridiculous getup for nothing!

What do you want me to think about Canada?

But whatever, the time for the zoo came and went, and then, at 5pm, it was time for the Canada Reception, where I caused a revolution by inciting everyone in the vicinity to eat on the floor, as the reception hall had about 4 chairs total, the view was beautiful, and the carpet was clean. Very professional we looked, but at least we were comfortable.

At 6:30, we watched the opening ceremonies, and the AAAS president’s address. Chemistry Nobel Laureate Peter C. Agre spoke at the ceremony, and then it was AAAS President.

And that was day one of the conference. I went home, frustrated with the lack of sightseeing, but excited about the next few days (and I planned the events I would attend during those days, and how to fit some sightseeing around it before everything was closed), and in complete disbelief that as the AAAS begins, reading week is pretty much ending, and in less than a week I’ll be back at school, trying to keep my head above water until exams.

San Diego Day 1.5 – Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

I made it in this time! No massively embarrassing moments, except for that time when I measured my bag in one of those metal size racks, and while pulling it out, managed to tip the giant “Does your bag fit in here?” board into my face. Also, I made a kid yawn. Otherwise, the entirety of the airport experience was incident free.

After I got in, I took a bus to USAHostels near 5th and Broadway. It’s an awesome hostel; great staff, great location, great rooms, great people, and cheap. Also, there is an ironing board. Chris.

I walked around the Gaslamp Quarter neighbourhood in the afternoon, got lost in Horton outdoor mall, settled into my room, and had dinner.

Wednesday night, the hostel organized a pub crawl, and I had a great new Le Chateau dress to wear, so me and Serena got way overdressed and went to 3 different pubs: a small one where we watched the Olympics, a larger one with bull riding (not in this dress!), and, best of all, a dueling pianos pub with two very talented pianists/singers who took my request for Somebody to Love and Played the hell out of it.

All of this did somewhat mitigate my disappointment that I totally missed Mardi Gras yesterday (due to the vomiting), and Sea World today, where David and Serena went without me while I was flying in.

Only 5 days left to squeeze it all in, and the conference starts tomorrow!

San Diego Day 1 – Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Personal stuff first. Skip to the next header if you want anything interesting. And by interesting, I mean gross.

This semester has probably been one of the most stressful at Carleton so far. Which makes sense – last year of journalism, but still two more years to go (i.e. no end in sight), my parents aren’t doing well (long story, not for internet consumption), my schedule sucks, my scholarship runs out this year so I’m working more than usual, and it just goes on and on and on. So I was really looking forward to this reading week – Tuesday to Tuesday, no touring or history lessons or museum visits, just beaches and writing conferences, sun and science, bikes, friends, fun, and pretty sun dresses, ample time for list-making, and finally, a bit of a break. Suffice it to say, I was really looking forward to this week.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Part 2: When the going gets tough, the tough get nauseous.

My plane to San Diego was scheduled to leave at 8:40am, and would arrive, after a transfer in Denver, at about 1 SD time. I’m a bit of a nervous flier, so I snacked until the wee hours, watched TV, and intended to be fully exhausted by the time the plane took off so I wouldn’t have to be conscious for the flight.

At about 3, I developed a strange lump in my throat. Like a pill hadn’t gone down properly, or a burp got stuck. Must be nerves, I thought. By the time I arrived at the airport, I was feeling a bit queasy. The roundabout in the parking lot probably made me a bit car sick. It’ll be fine.

In line for check in, I got the hiccups, but felt fine otherwise. Just annoyed.

And 5 minutes later, I felt so hot that I was thisclose to stripping right there in the airport. Instead I just took off my sweater and sat down.

And then I thew up.

I front of the entire freaking airport.

Goodbye Blue Sky

After recovering enough that I felt like I actually could worry about how mortifying this was, my mom and brother, who had gone for drinks (to quell the hiccups – which were now gone, by the way) returned. Mortifying, also disgusting, and very, very ill timed.

So at this point I figured it was nerves and car sickness, whatever, but a couple minutes later, the room was boiling again, and up came more of breakfast. It was at this point that the airport people (I don’t know who they were, the people who help you in line, not security or anything) decided that there was no way I was flying today. There was also no way I was getting back in that car, back up that car park from hell, so I made m and b wait for 2 hours while I hovered over the bathroom and decided I couldn’t stomach toast.

Anyway, so us armchair physicians have decided that it’s probably food poisoning, and regardless, I am never eating Schneider’s Chicken Pot Pie again EVER. Went home, slept for about 8 hours, moped, had an uneventful dinner (no regurgitating!), and didn’t unpack a thing.

No San Diego for me. At least not today.

I’ll try again tomorrow; same time, same place. Otherwise I’m giving up and spending my break in Ottawa, continuing my transformation from human to mole person who has never seen the sun.