Crisis Averted

Have you ever been in the line to board an airplane and you hear an announcement asking for volunteers to give up their seats for monetary compensation?

Well, I didn’t notice that my boarding pass didn’t have a seat number until I was lined up for the plane.  when I asked someone about it, they informed me that the flight was oversold.  They then offered me 800 dollars, a hotel room for the night, and a business class ticket for the next flight.

Tempting though that was, I had a group to meet.  I had a group that would be departing early the next morning.  If I missed them, there was no way I could catch up to them.  So I refused.

Luckily for me, someone else volunteered.  She asked for, and received one thousand dollars.  I got a middle seat, and my meal didn’t look anything like the picture.

I arrived safely.  That’s what matters.

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Posted in adversity, airplanes, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, compensation, Costa Rica, food, G Adventures, increasing blog traffic, travel, travel writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

And I Am Off

It might be a bit of cosmic irony that the polar vortex is losing its grip on the greater Toronto area (GTA) just as I am jetting off to Costa Rica, but I cannot be 100% sure.

As I type this, I am sitting in the departure lounge amid a sea of people who are also in search of warmer shores.  I hear snippets of conversation; some in languages I can identify but not understand, and others in languages that I cannot even comprehend.  I can also catch words in English, though spoken with a rich variety of accents.  In that way, it feels a bit like work.

The teen beside me is narrating his video game with an Italian accent.  The woman across from me is chatting in what I believe is an Indian dialect–thoughI could be mistaken.  There’s even a couple behind me urgently trying to coax a young child towards better behaviour.  I wish them luck.

I have walked through the duty free and couldn’t find anything to tempt me.  Actually, There was lots of temptation, but none of it seemed relevant at the start of my vacation .

Outside the skies are grey and only hope I wake to a tropical sunrise.

 

Posted in airplanes, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, blog, blog posts, blogging, Costa Rica, growing your blog, Toronto, travel, travel tips, travel writing, vacation, winter | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Modern Traveller

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For most of my life, I have relied on Lonely Planet guidebooks to point the way when travelling. I don’t often use their recommendations to eat or hotels to stay at.  However, I like their important background facts on a country.  I like to know what the voltage is.  I like to know what the typical food is.  I also like to have a map or two available to me.

So, today, I went to the library to take out the guide to Costa Rica.  For reasons unclear to me, Thursday morning is prime time in the parking lot at the library.  Every space was taken up.  I circled the lot twice looking for a spot.  Rather than lurk at the entrance, hoping I could spot someone leaving and tail them to their spot, I decided to do another errand and return.

When I got back to the library 30 minutes later, the situation had not changed. I had borrowed my mother’s car, which came equipped with a disability sticker that would have allowed me to park in the designated spot–except that it wouldn’t have.  The sticker is for her when she is in the car, not for the car itself.  I know these rules and despite that fact that many people would take advantage of the situation, I did not.  I will not.

So, I circled the streets around the lot and found nothing in the area. I began to suspect that something besides the library was drawing a crowd that morning.   I never found out what it was, but I am sure it was something.

I passed through the lot again, planning on going home and returning later. Then, my luck changed and there was an open spot.  I snagged it and inwardly felt that the omens for my vacation were positive.

Sadly, all the copies of the guidebook had been taken out and there were several reserve holds in case they came back before I left. There weren’t any other guidebooks from other publisher available either.  I guess half of my town will be going to Costa Rica with me.  Based on the rather cold temperatures, I don’t blame them.

When I told another person that I was going to take a guidebook with me that asked why. They told me that I could find everything on the internet and that it would be much more up to date.  They said I could easily look up restaurants near the hotels that I was staying at.

I suppose all of that is true. So, now, perhaps I should embrace modern travel methods.  Though I wouldn’t call myself internet savvy, I can find my way around.  I have a smart phone and all of the hotels that I will be staying at in Costa Rica will come internet equipped.  I had planned on using my phone to blog and send jealousy inducing pictures to friends, family, and Instagram followers.  So, now it will have more uses.

Here’s to trying something new.

Posted in adventure, adversity, advice, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, Costa Rica, G Adventures, guide book, information, photography, smart phone, travel, travel tips, travel writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A View From The Bus Window

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What you can see from the bus window varies between distorted mess on rainy days (or when no one has cleaned the bus windows for a while) to something unbelievable. It is no wonder that Today’s Perfect Moment can easily be culled from this vantage point.

The snow started around 1:30, and it had the markings of a classical storm the likes of which my current crop of students had neither seen nor experienced. The view from the window showed both big and small flakes that fell to the ground, rushed sideways like ice missiles, and swirled around on eddies made from the wind.  Of course accumulation had no choice but to happen.

Taking the bus home, I feared the worst. I feared being trapped on a slow moving bus, reaching home long after midnight.  I feared being trapped on the bus with only complete strangers to talk to.  I feared being trapped on the bus without a decent book to read or any power to my mp3 player.

Luckily none of these doomsday scenarios played themselves out.

However, out of the bus window, my eyes did catch something that definitely shouldn’t be Today’s Perfect Moment, but somehow became one after I pondered it for a bit.

Like I wrote, the bus ride was not the living hell I had expected it to be. It was also not the rocket express I wish it were in my dreams.  The bus moved, but it wasn’t racing through the snow like a race car driver either.

Out of the window to my left, I spotted the tracks before I spotted the car. As we were climbing a hill–no doubt in low gear, I spied squiggly lines in the snow as if made by a giant Spiro graph.  They were undulating waves.  My eyes grew quizzical and I struggled to comprehend.  It was then I saw the car.  It’s wheels were spinning and it was moving side to side, barely in control.  It was moving up the hill, but at a crawl.  When the bus passed it, I wondered if we would collect the car and drag it with us.  Fortunately that did not happen.

So why did I pick this? Maybe I just wanted to illustrate the practicality of having Snow tires when it is snowing or when you live in a region with a lot of snow.  Maybe I just wanted to remind people that learning how to drive also means learning how to drive in the environment you live in.  Maybe I just wanted to illustrate that one selfish act can have an effect on a huge line of cars that all want to get home and park their snow-tired cars in the driveway and watch Netflix.

As it was, I was home roughly at the same time as normal. I had to scamper over and through a few snow drifts–but I had my boots on.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bus, commuting, driving, seasons, snow, Toronto, TTC, Viva, weather, winter, York Region, YRT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Longer Days

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Though I had to be reminded of it, Today’s Perfect Moment is the realization that the days are getting longer.

Perhaps I did not notice because I still arrive and leave work in the dark.  Today, though, I managed to catch the sunset and see that it was later than I expected.  That will certainly make up for the cold.

Posted in appreciation, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, lights, photography, seasons, sun, sunrise, sunset | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Getting Ready

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Photo by Chedi Tanabene on Pexels.com

This time next week, I will be in Costa Rica.

That shouldn’t be its own paragraph, but when you write it on paper, it just seems so much more real. It just seems that it needs its own space.  It needs room to breathe.

The funny thing is whenever the trip comes up among people I am talking to–and it comes up because almost everyone in my social group wants to escape winter regardless of how benign it has been–everyone asks me one of two questions: When is your trip again?  Or Are you packed yet?

The first is obviously just a clarification. It really doesn’t affect their lives because there is no parking spot up for grabs, there won’t be a noticeable amount of coffee still in the coffee pot, and there won’t be extra bagels for breakfast–because we don’t get those anyway.  At best there will be a little extra room in the fridge to store their lunch.

The second question is a bit more difficult to fathom. Perhaps they are looking for insights into my personality.  Perhaps they are just trying to impose their idea of order and preparation on me.  If it is the former, good luck.  I am an Aquarian and contradictions are all part of the game.  If it is the latter, well, I could probably use a bit of coaching on that front–but you should expect resistance.

I seem to flip flop between preparation and winging it. I have taken trips where I meticulously prepared a checklist with boxes for having done it and a second set of boxes for checking on the day of departure that I have really, in fact, absolutely done it.  I have resisted doing that this time because my printer is out of commission and I don’t want to do it at work.  However, as I type this, I am starting to think it is a good idea.  I have started one on paper, but even I don’t really appreciate my own handwriting.

I’ve got my packing cubes ready and my summer clothes are still washed from before the onset of late fall. I’ve got my sun block and my hat.  All I really need to decide is what book I should take for my five hour flight.

If you’re wondering how any of this qualifies as Today’s Perfect Moment, the first sentence should say it all. This time next week I will be in Costa Rica while many of my fellow Canadians will be shovelling snow.

What book, current or classic, would you take?

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, books, Costa Rica, packing, photography, preparation, sun, travel, travel writing, vacation, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Better Than Solitary Joy

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Where I work, students improve their English and change their levels. Hopefully, they have improved their pronunciation, reading comprehension, their writing skills, and their ability to speak a language I take for granted every day.  While I love this, it does not always reach me because there is no external validation.  I decide that their level has improved.  I see it, but it is more than a bit subjective.

Luckily, twice a year, I teach a course that has, as its culmination/outcome…judgment really, an international test from Cambridge University.  In most cases I teach the FCE preparation course.  Occasionally, I teach the higher, more difficult CAE course, but mostly I teach the FCE course which judges students at a high intermediate level.  Having a clearly defined goal is a fantastic thing for a teacher.  It might lead to a bid of hard pushing, but that isn’t always a bad thing.

I last finished this course at the start of December. The students took their test and everyone kept their fingers crossed.  I was quite confident that, for the first time in many years, everyone would pass and several would pass with an A or B (the only distinction given–yeah, only 3 passing marks)

As it was a huge test, with thousands of people taking the test world wide, the results were not available until January. As I said, I was confident that everyone would pass.  This in fact turned out to be the case.  Sadly, perhaps because the marking has gotten a bit more rigorous, none of my students managed an A.  Nevertheless, I was quite proud and felt very good about it.

Before you jump to conclusions, this is not Friday’s Perfect Moment. I found out a little while ago, and kept that to myself.

How this relates to Friday’s Perfect Moment is that two of my students who took the course paid me a visit before they were scheduled to leave Canada and eventually make their way back home.  I think they are making stops in New York or LA before heading home, though I didn’t ask about specific details, but those seem like likely destinations.

I was quite touched that they wanted to see me and made time for them–not that my schedule was so busy, but still.

We spent a few moments reminiscing before they asked me how the other students in the class had done. Despite near constant communication being available to them, they couldn’t muster the courage to ask everyone how they did, perhaps fearing that one of them did not succeed.  They were so overjoyed when I informed them that everyone passed the exam.

Their joy was quite contagious and I felt even better when I read the news the first time. Perhaps shared joy is better than solitary joy.

Congratulations FCE class of Autumn 2018.  You did it!

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, ESL, happiness, students, success, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Banana Kit Kat

One of my students went back to Japan to take part in a festival to celebrate adulthood.  It is a wonderful event with beautiful kimono.  I saw it a couple of times in Japan and always thought it was spectacular–at least from a fashion point of view.

As for me, she was kind enough to bring some snacks back for me. I was expecting the Tirol chocolate which I love, but instead was given a Banana Kit Kat, Tokyo Banana, and another coffee flavoured sponge treat which I dispatched too quickly to get the name of.

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While I thought the two spongy ones would be quite interesting, it was the Banana Kit Kat which stole the show. After my experience with Green Tea Kit Kats, I expected the bar to be yellow.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, it was not.  It didn’t have the exact easy break sides I have come to associate with a Kit Kat, but it wasn’t exactly hard to split.

It won’t replace Green Tea Kit Kat as my favourite, but I will definitely keep a lookout for it whenever I am in Japan again.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, banana, chocolate, delicious, ESL, gifts, Japan, Japanese, Japanese snacks, kit kat, presents, snacks, souvenirs, students, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Winter Wonderland

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My morning routine is pretty set. After showering and shaving, and before I feed the cat, I try my best to enjoy my breakfast (which includes coffee) while listening to the radio.  Though they had stopped the practice for a little while, they have returned to updating the weather forecast and weather conditions.  Or so they thought.

They announced that it was actually a little rainy and that the rain would turn to ice. At 5:30 in the morning, and needing to catch the bus, this information was crucial.  I looked out the window but the glare of the streetlights clouded my view.  I also hadn’t actually drunk my coffee, so I believed the announcers.

At the appointed time, I left home, briefly thinking that my shoes would be better than my boots. My boots are pretty warm, and while waterproof, they are heavy.  If I don’t have to wear them, I usually opt for shoes.  However, thinking I had better play it safe, or perhaps still being somewhat asleep, I put on my boots–and I am extremely glad I did.

Those radio announcers had gotten it so wrong. Perhaps their studio has no windows, or perhaps they were so high up in the building that they weren’t actually getting a view.  When I walked outside, I walked into a fluffy snowy wonderland that kids and adults with a little child trapped inside them love.  If only I could have been skiing in that.

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So, yesterday’s Perfect Moment is all about a wonderful winter landscape that I want to share with you.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, Aurora, bus, commuting, photography, public transportation, seasons, snow, TTC, Viva, weather, winter, York Region | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Of Masks and Men

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I am not going to lie to you. I thought Monday was pretty cold.  I was mostly unconcerned while indoors.  I certainly didn’t want to rile up the students any more than they were.  I am sure all of them were wondering why in the world they came to Canada to study English in the winter.  The ones who came from below the equator must have been wondering this even more so.

As for me, the cold did inspire Monday’s Perfect Moment, though at the time I just thought it was a random encounter with a very random result.

I was talking to a friend on the bus, when I noticed that a passenger had on some special winter clothes. Having read this blog for a while, you know that I have seen people wearing hockey gloves, ballet slippersballet slippers, carrying cakes and balloons, as well as being sensibly and less that sensibly dressed.  I’ve seen a vast array of coloursvast array of colours.  This one just seemed different.

I looked over and the man was trying on a full face mask. It wasn’t like the balaclava I had as a child–which thanks to my precious imagination as a child was also my cowboy costume.  It was something that was flat and tied around the head.  It covered the entire face and not just the lower half like the one I have for skiing does.  It isn’t the mask itself that qualifies it for Perfect Moment honours.  It wasn’t even really out of place.  The temperature was quite low and with the wind-chill felt well into the negative 20’s.

It was two things. The first was that, I spoke out loud to my friend that maybe it was something that I could use–and the person with the mask and I started up a conversation.  While most of the people on my bus are friendly, usually at night, most people are too weary for a conversation of any depth or length.  Nods and eye rolls seem to be enough.  The second is that the colour of this face mask was bright orange.  Imagine the brightest orange you can.  Now double it.  That is how orange it was.  He explained that he got the thing at the dollar store “just in case:”  Well, he certainly had good foresight.  The other thing he explained was that he had had a choice between orange and black.  Obviously he chose orange.

At least he will be visible from a distance.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bus, conversation, dollar store, dollar tree, dollarama, public transportation, Toronto, Viva, weather, winter, York Region, YRT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments