Tag Archives: Hawaii

On The Topic Of Wanderlust

The world is so much bigger than North America
The world is so much bigger than North America

While my friends Beth and Rick were in town over the Christmas holidays, we spent some time chatting about travel (as we are wont to do). Both Beth and Rick have been on some pretty fantastic adventures over the past year (for example, read about their awesome but separate trips to Ireland here, and here1), and it’s always great to hear about travel related shenanigans.

One of the interesting things to come out of the conversation wasn’t exactly expected. We were chatting about off-continent trips, and I began to wonder when last I launched myself through the air in a people-filled lawn dart3. For someone who loves travel as I do, I was actually shocked by the realization. My last trip off-continent was back in the old-time-y days of 2011 when Rick and I adventured our asses off in Hawaii4, 5. The year before that also saw me in Europe twice – once for Christmas with my brother, and once to celebrate the successful completion of my PhD.

Clearly this close-minded North Amerocentric travel practice can not be permitted to continue. It’s just not right. Think of all of the cultures that I’m not learning about. Think of all of the shenanigans I’m not getting up to. Think of all the adventures that aren’t being adventured. It’s a travesty I say.

Fortunately I have a few plans up my sleeve. One involves Asia, the other involves a return to Europe. Both could occur sometime during the summer. In the former case I’m looking at a potential exchange program that would allow me to bookend a two-week teaching/researching adventure with shenanigan filled adventuring. In the latter case I’m looking at several conferences that are separated by a few weeks.

In any case, it’s very clear that I haven’t been living up to my wanderlusting potential. This is something that I must correct in 2014.

1 Also, why haven’t I been to Ireland yet2?

2 Honestly, 2013 seemed to be the year that everyone I knew when to Ireland or Scotland. I may or may not be jealous.

3 Also known as an airplane.

4 While Hawaii is politically part of the United States, it’s actually in the region known as Oceania.

5 Which means that the three year anniversary of that particular trip is only a few weeks away. I should figure out a way to celebrate said adventure-filled vacation.


Scars are bad-ass sexy, right?

It’s hard to believe but it has been roughly 2 years since I last set foot in Hawaii. Given my recent bout of wanderlust, you’ll understand that this has been preoccupying my mind of late.

Yesterday, January 22nd, would have been the two year anniversary of the day that my face was introduced to the hardwood floor in the house that Rick and I had rented for a week on the Big Island. The coming together of face and floor, albeit brief, was so powerful that it bore fruit; specifically the Harry Potter-esque lightning bolt scar that now sits above my left eyebrow, reminding me daily of our adventure1.

Sitting back and thinking about the past two years reminds me of how lucky I am. Not only did I have an amazing adventure in Hawaii, I managed to land an amazing job, travel a lot, run a lot, and climb several mountains. I got to know some amazing new friends in Guelph, and I got to take part in so many shenanigan filled adventures2.

Looking back at all of the things I’ve been able to do, I can’t help but smile and feel such gratitude that – for whatever reason – I’ve been able to do them. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to be surrounded by some amazing people – pushing me farther, helping me achieve things I never would have thought possible, encouraging me on my way, picking me up when I stumbled or fell. And I know that it’s because of them that I am able to do all of the things that I get to do. When I’ve had times of doubt, or questioned my ability to finish something that I had started, I often thought of the people who had provided support along the way. That thought was usually exactly what I needed to push me through to the finish line, whatever form that finish line took.

So here’s to all of the people who have inspired me, challenged me, and pushed me beyond. Here’s to everyone who encouraged my wanderlust, who supported my personal challenges, or smiled knowingly when I confided an as-of-yet unwritten desire to do something crazy. Thank you for everything.

Most of all, thank you for not fearing my ever-so bad-ass gangster scar. It’s pretty bad-ass, no?

1 In the event that you want to relive The Stitchening, click here – because Rick filmed the entire hospital face-stitching adventure. You are welcome. Note: not necessarily for those of weak constitution.

2 Shenanigan filled adventures being the best of all the adventures.

The First Step Is A Big One

We’ve got this.

So apparently I really like jumping out of perfectly good planes1.

That’s right folks, today marked the second time in my 36-point-something years in which I hurtled myself towards the earth from a height in excess of 12000 feet, with only fabric preventing me from plummeting to a very flat end. And as was the case with my first jump, I loved every freaking second of it.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

It’s Dr. Beardo to the rescue!

Today was a very long day – but for all of the right reasons. It started relatively early so that we3 could try to get through Toronto rush hour traffic prior to our 10am appointment with gravity. The day started with a warning-slash-educational video; the same video we saw when we were jumping in Hawaii. After that we were given a booklet of waivers and forms that we were to review, sign, date, sign again, date again, sign once more, initial, check, date, sign, and witness. Oh, and sign and date again.

After so many pages, I basically gave in and just signed and dated anything – even if it asked for a phone number or address. I’m pretty sure that in the chaotic symphony of signing and dating, I signed and dated away the parental control over my first-born child. This means I don’t need to save for their education, right?

Especially if you die. Ha!

Next up – further training, some waiting, more training, and then we were fitted for our jumpsuits. This included a sporty jump-cap, gloves, and of course the harness that makes sure we remain attached to our jump-master.

In no time the plane was taking off. Rick and I were sitting near the back going over last-minute instructions with our jump-masters, chatting with each other, checking our altimeters, and watching as the ground sped away below.

And then the door was open and Rick was gone. I watched in amazement as he fell away beneath the plane.

And then I was at the door’s edge with crossed arms and an arched back. I took one as-deep-as-I-could-breath and then I was falling. Or floating. Or flying. I’m not really sure which. Perhaps all of these. The sound of the rushing wind filled my ears, I saw the ground beneath me, I saw the sky above, and it was all perfect. Absolutely perfect.

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s possibly Rick!

Around 5000 feet the ripcord was pulled. The roar of the air stopped and everything became serene as the parachute slowed our descent. I could see Barrie, Toronto, Lake Simcoe, and so much more. The air was cool and the sky was blue with just the right amount of clouds. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Of course eventually we had to land. The ground came up quickly but we still managed a very smooth return to terra firma. After watching Rick land, and after celebrating another amazing adventure together, we returned to the terminal to process all that we’d done. It was at this point that I started wondering when I could jump again.

Clearly I’m hooked.

Rick, thanks again for another awesome adventure. It really wouldn’t be the same without you4. Thanks also to Verena, Rob, Ryan, and Mum for welcoming me on this little adventure, and for making today so awesome. You are all amazing.

For those interested, I’ve posted some of the pics from today below. Enjoy.

1 And by that, I mean that I’m looking forward to my next skydiving adventure2. I’m not exactly sure when that will be, but I’m pretty confident that it’s going to be this summer.

2 In fact, I think my next adventure is going to have to involve a solo jump. Which means I really should update my Not-So-Bucket-List list to reflect this new challenge.

3 Me, Rick, Rick’s two brothers (Rob and Ryan), Rick’s sister (Verena), and Rick’s Mum, plus two of Ryan’s colleagues – Barb and Jenny.

4 Sentiment.

As If Getting My Nerd On Weren’t Enough For One Week

I’m feeling jump-out-of-a-plane-y. That’s a feeling, right?

I’m stoked. Tomorrow I’ll be jumping in the car early in the morning with Rick, his mom, and his siblings for yet another adventure. Which adventure is this? Only Skydiving Part II: Flight of the Nerdlies. In this version, Rick and I shall be playing the part of the Nerdlies1.

For Rick’s mom and siblings, this will be their first jumps. For Rick and me, tomorrow’s jump makes jump number two3. Our first jump was in Hawaii just over 16 months ago, and it was incredible. In fact incredible doesn’t do it justice. When my feet had been safely returned to terra firma I knew that I was hooked and had to jump again.

Tomorrow ends the wait. We’ll be heading out early in the morning for Skydive Toronto. There we’ll likely sign a bunch of waivers, listen to some safety videos, get strapped into our jump gear, and board the plane. Once we reach a height of about 13000 feet we jump. According to the website we’ll reach speeds of approximately 120mph.

So. Freaking. Stoked.

Anyway, while I haven’t booked it I’m going to try to get photos of the event. This clearly means that I’ll likely be posting the ridiculousness of the adventure tomorrow.

Consider yourself warned. Ha!

1 Since I’ve only met his mom once (briefly), and just met one of his brothers yesterday when he picked Rick up, I can’t honestly call them nerdly as of yet. Of course, I can’t imagine how Rick’s nerdliness wouldn’t have rubbed off on them2.

2 Fortunately his ugly didn’t. ZING!

3 One of my grad students has recently discovered the thrill of throwing oneself out of a perfectly good plane, and has decided that he needs to go again at the end of this month. I haven’t decided if I’m going yet, but he has extended the invite. Perhaps jump three and even my skydiving certification isn’t far off?

Flight Of The Nerdlies

Getting my adventure on – Hawaii style

Several months ago I posted a couple of previews for movies directed by Sebastian Montaz-Rosset. These included the documentaries I believe I can Fly: Flight of the Frenchiesand One Step Beyond. To say that I found both movies inspiring would be an understatement. To be honest, they both gave me a list of things that I want to try before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

The other day, thanks to the powers of the interwebs, another movie was brought to my attention. The movie is also directed by Sebastian Montaz-Rosset, but this time the movie follows – based on what I can glean from the preview – runners, not just skydivers, base jumpers, and the like. For your viewing entertainment, I suggest you watch the embedded video below.


Sadly, the full movie will not be released until the fall. This means that I’ll have to find inspiration in the older movies (not a difficult task), or fill my time between now and then with a bunch of awesome adventures.

Awesome adventures? you say.

Done and done!

The first of my upcoming adventures starts this weekend, and as per usual Rick is involved1. Adventure the first is a 6 or so odd hour day of ziplining in Elora. I’m stoked. The last time I ziplined was several years ago on my trip to Honduras. I’m sure this is going to be hilarious and insane.

Flight of the nerdlies.

The second of my upcoming adventures involves me, Rick, his brother and his mom being tossed from a perfectly functional and safe plane next Friday. That’s right folks – once again I’m going to brave the world of skydiving and aim to conquer another small slice of it. I am beyond excited about this.

Of course, these adventures only take me to next Friday night. The question becomes What will I do to fill my time between next weekend and the movie?.

So, beyond running and biking and ziplining and skydiving, what other adventures or shenaniganning might you suggest I get myself involved in?

1 It just wouldn’t be right if Rick weren’t involved in at least 50% of my adventures and shenaniganning. He is, after all, an expert in both the art of shenaniganning and the science of adventuring.

My Everything Hurts And I Couldn’t Be Happier

Bobsleigh rides: adult diapers not included. Wuss-bags need not apply.

Well, after a most incredible 4 day adventure in Calgary with Rick, I am home. And holy crapshite my everything hurts – a lot – and in the best kind of way.

You see, all of this hurt just reminds me of how good the weekend was, and how lucky I am to have someone in my life as adventurous as Rick. I really think everyone should be so lucky to have a Rick in their life; someone who will agree to any of your wild and crazy ideas while still acting as the voice of reason; someone who will grab life with both hands; someone who will see the good before the bad; someone who would rather laugh than cry; and someone who will remind you that life is meant to be lived completely, without reserve or regret.

Ricks are rare – so if you find one, hold on to them.

Unfortunately, the hurt also reminds me that I hurt. Go figure. However, I know that the hurt is temporary and the experiences I’ve had this weekend – much like all the others that Rick and I have shared (I turn your attention to our Hawaii adventures, screeing, mountain-top scotch, and caving, to name a few) – will last a lifetime. And that is worth any of the physical discomfort I’m currently experiencing.

For those who might be wondering, Rick and I are already planning our next set of adventures. These may or may not include such things as zip-lining at the Elora gorge, the CN Tower Edge Walk, paragliding, and a camping adventure on the Wapta ice fields.

Prepping for the ride by doing my best Darth Vader impression.

Can’t. Freaking. Wait.

But back to the moral of my story. I’m hurting in the best way possible, and I can’t stop smiling about this weekend. Sunday was the last day of our 4 day adventure and it was a great way to end our shenaniganning.

It started simply: breakfast at The Coup. It ended with an intense adrenalin rush following the most insane ride I’ve ever been on. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We arrived at the Canada Olympic Park around 2:15, just in time for our 2:15 ride. Of course, there were others in front of us so we didn’t actually get into our sled for about 30 minutes or so. And those 30 minutes were enough to give both of us nerves. Which is weird because neither of us normally experience nerves like this when we’re doing crazy adventurous things. At least, not on this level. Regardless, we laughed them off as best we could and busied ourselves trying on helmets (safety first). And then, before we knew it, our names were called:



All smiles afterwards. Okay, mostly smiles, somewhat nauseous.

That’s right folks, they b0rked up Rick’s name. Or did they? I’m still trying to decide that. Whatever the motivation behind the name change, it was enough to make me giggle. And by giggle, I mean laugh out loud. And that calmed me enough to allow me to take my first steps out to the track.

After a few last-minute instructions from our driver, we were loaded into the sled. A random dude that was  added to our sled was placed at the back. Then me. Then Rick. And finally our driver. Helmets were double checked. Visors were lowered, and then the ride started. It started off simply – like a gentle toboggan ride. But before long it became obvious that this was not going to be an ordinary trip.

Our speed grew. And then it grew further. And just when I was thinking “Hey, this isn’t so scary” we hit the first turn. The force was absolutely intense. My head was instantly pushed towards the ground as our bodies hit approximately 5 times the force of gravity. That meant that my head weighed about 5 times as much as my neck is accustomed to holding. The force of the turn took my breath away. I’m sure my eyes were wider than they’d ever been.

All this and we get a certificate too? Sweet.

As we came out of the first turn, in the milliseconds before hitting the second turn, I remember taking a breath and then realizing that both Rick and I were giggling. I’m not sure why our reaction was to giggle, but I know for sure it was not out of fear. I was loving every second of the ride – at least between the moments when I was trying to adapt my body to the force of 5Gs. Sure, the sled could have slipped, or we could have somehow been launched off the tracks, but none of that was going through my head. All I could think was HOLY SHIT THIS IS AMAZING.

And then, as quickly as it started the ride was over. It lasted 60.66 seconds, we reached a maximum speed of 119.89 km/hr (74.50 miles per hour), we were wobbly afterwards, and we both felt nauseous.

In other words, it was absolutely amazing.

Thanks again for an awesome weekend Rick. I can’t wait for our next adventure.

The Day My Face Exploded With Awesome

January is just full of anniversaries.

First I had my Job-iversary; a day to celebrate the successful completion of one full year as an Ass. Prof.

This was followed by Dan and Rick‘s Trip-iversary, which celebrated the day 1 year ago when we boarded a plane and made our way to a most awesome adventure in Hawaii.

Then there was my blog-iversary; a celebration of blogging here at Consumed By Wanderlust for 1 full year.

And now today marks the 1 year anniversary of this:

Just call me Stitch-Face

That’s right folks. Today is the anniversary of the moment when I was innocently practicing my yoga, slipped, and braced the fall with my face. That particular mishap left me with a nasty laceration above my left eye. Surprisingly, there wasn’t nearly as much blood as one might have expected. And even better, very little in the way of pain.

Fortunately for me, Rick was smart enough to insist that we head to the hospital for stitches despite my assertion that crazy glue would work just fine.

You’d probably assume that this put a huge damper on our trip given that it happened right in the middle of it, but you’d be very wrong. We probably laughed way more than most people who have smashed their face on a hardwood floor. And to say that we were giant goofs at the hospital would be an understatement. So while it may have modified our original plans for the eve (which involved a bottle or two of wine, a telescope – yes we are nerds – and enjoying our last eve overlooking the ocean before flying to Oahu), we ended up having a pretty hilarious and fantastic night.

The result? Well, one year later everything has healed up pretty well. I still have people staring at the obvious Harry-Potter-Lightning-Bolt-Scar that remains (a few whom have asked whether I had done this on purpose). But mostly my lightning bolt scar has become a part of me. I’d say that I rarely notice it but that would be a lie. To be perfectly honest, I love my scar and I probably notice it on some level every day. And when I do I smile, because it reminds me of one of the craziest nights in my life, and it also reminds me of my most awesome Hawaiian adventure with Rick.

In honour of this festive occasion, I’ve relinked three videos of The Stitchening – also known as when I went to the Hilo Hospital with Rick and had my face sewn back together.

Video 1: I Shall Call You Stitch-Face: The Cleaning (starring RN Sara).

The cleaning was the weirdest feeling ever. Imagine having cold water shot into your forehead. Under the skin. What I felt was weirder than that.

Video 2: I Shall Call You Stitch-Face: The Exam (starring Dr. Coker).

This is probably the most disgusting of the videos. As such, it is my favourite one.

Video 3: I Shall Call You Stitch-Face: The Stitchening (starring Dr. Coker).

Note how the doctor describes the shape of the forthcoming scar. Sounds like a lightning bolt to me!

525 Thousand Six Hundred Minutes Of Wanderlust

January 2011: This blog was born in a volcano in Hawaii. Okay, it wasn't born in the volcano, but it was born near it.

Wow. Time really flies when you’re having fun.

It’s hard to believe that I wrote my very first blog post here at Consumed By Wanderlust 1 year ago today: January 19, 2011. I won’t say that my re-entry into the blogging world was all that profound; I mean, my first post here was entitled “My First Post (a.k.a. Worst Blog Title Ever)“. I’d like to believe that things have improved since that initial post. But let’s be honest, anything that followed “My First Post (a.k.a. Worst Blog Title Ever)” had to be an improvement, right?

February 2011: This blog may have partied in NYC three times in the past year.

When I started the blog I had fully intended it to be a place for me to write about my adventures, my academic and health related pursuits, my nerdery, and other such related bric-a-brac. And for the most part, I think I’ve been successful in that respect.

March 2011: This blog saw my family of one become a family of two when Elliot came to rule my world

I also had intended the blog to be a place where I could identify challenges for myself, set goals, measure them in some way, and further keep track of the things that I’ve been fortunate enough to do (as I am rather forgetful). And again, I think for the most part I’ve been successful in this too.

April 2011: This blog saw me conquer the CN Tower and crush my old personal best time by more than 3 minutes!

However, there were also unintended consequences of this blog that I never would have ever foreseen. First and foremost this blog has taught me a lot about myself. That’s not to say that I didn’t often stop to reflect on my life prior to the blog – I did. But having to put into words the things that I have been thinking or feeling has been a great way to evaluate not only where I am and where I want to go, but more importantly who I am and who I want to be.

May 2011: This blog saw me finish my first ever marathon.

A second amazing and unforeseen consequence has been the development of new friendships. The online community has been (and continues to be) amazing. For those Bloggers and Tweeters  that I’ve been able to meet in real life and get to know outside of the interwebs, I can’t begin to tell you how awesome this past year has been and how awesome all y’all are. You are a group of amazing individuals who are unbelievably active in the community, who are charitable and positive, optimistic about life, health-minded, and never lacking in laughter and smiles. You have and continue to inspire me to be better at everything that I do. Your lust for life is addictive, and I thank you for getting me hooked on it.

June 2011: This blog saw me travel out east for the first time.

Finally, I would also never have foreseen that my blog would be read by so many. To date, this little-old-blog has been viewed almost 40,000 times. It has received over 1500 comments and is followed by over 500 people. I’m not sure where that stands in the grand scheme of blogging, but it’s far beyond what I ever had imagined. Truth is, when I started this adventure I figured I might get a few family and friends reading my posts. The fact that this blog receives over 100 views per day astounds me.

Anyway, here’s to another year of blogging and all the awesome things that it brings.

July 2011: This blog saw me attacked by a 26 foot Marilyn Monroe in Chicago
August 2011: This blog saw me kick my hernia to the curb.
September 2011: This blog saw me hanging in Montreal with Dr. Dixon
October 2011: This blog saw me conquer another mountain with Rick, and celebrate in the manner appropriate of a classy bitch.
November 2011: This blog saw me visiting my brother in the hospital after a nasty car accident.
December 2011: This blog saw me visiting with Arlene (in NYC) - one of the most amazing people I know

Some statistics, because, well, why not?

  • Total posts: 316 since January 19, 2011
  • Total page views: 38257
  • Average daily views in 2011: 103
  • Average daily views in 2012: 127
  • Total followers: 518
  • Total comments: 1516
  • Most common search term that brings people to my blog: sad babies, followed closely by pi

Happy Trip-iversary

Coffee on the lanai, listening to the waves. Best way to spend a morning.

It’s hard to believe, but over 39 thousand kilometres and 1 year ago today, Rick and I made our way to Hawaii to begin what would be one of the most amazing adventures I’ve ever been on.

Part of the craziness of the adventure was travelling with Rick. You see, up until that point we’d never travelled together. In fact, the closest we’d come to having spent a significant amount of time together was when I’d travelled to Calgary with Manon, Mark, and Nadia for my friend Karen’s wedding.

Prior to hiking up Mauna Kea. T'is a little chilly.

So you’ll understand that before the trip started I was a bit nervous. Travelling with people is very different from hanging out with them. I mean, up until that point I knew Rick was awesome. But spending 16 days together? Would I drive him insane? Would he drive me insane? We really could have been spending a lot of money to travel to paradise only to find out that we really didn’t want to spend time together, and yet were stuck together for 16 solid days.

Thankfully that wasn’t the case. Not even close. Between mountain climbing, lava fields, skydiving, helicoptering, snorkelling, lava tube exploring, awesome food, missed flights, pineapple photos, several bottles of wine, smashed faces, coffee on the lanai, and so much more, my Hawaiian adventure wouldn’t have been the same without Rick.

Rick's best jump shot. But there were so many to pick from.

The best part of the trip, beyond all of the amazing adventure, was discovering that Rick was just as adventurous, and perhaps ridiculous as me. He was also easy-going, open to sudden changes in itinerary, and completely ready to try pretty much anything. And when I needed it, he was also the voice of reason. Who knows what my face would look like today if he hadn’t insisted that I go to the hospital to get stitches, instead of using crazy glue like I had originally suggested.

After our trip, I wrote Rick to tell him how hard it was to return to reality after such an epic vacation. Part of that was due to my ever-present wanderlust. Part of that was clearly associated with missing Hawaii. But most of all, it was because I actually missed Rick.

Because the most important thing that I gained from that vacation; way more important than experiences and adventure; way more important than a much-needed break from my day-to-day life; was a much deeper friendship with Rick. And as I’ve written before, Rick truly is 100% Grade-A Awesome. I’m more than lucky to have someone like him in my life.

Drinking wine on the beach. As is necessary when in Hawaii.

Since that time we’ve been on many adventures together – mountain climbing, hiking, caving, screeing, etc. And we have more planned – ice climbing and bobsledding being the next on our always growing list of things to do. But best of all; we have a list of future adventures and shananiganning that is a mile long and constantly growing. Whether or not we get through that list doesn’t matter. The important thing is that I know he’ll be up for pretty much anything. And I also know that whatever we do, our adventures will be filled with much laughter, much joy, and much awesomeness.

So Happy Trip-iversary my friend. Thank you for all of the grand adventures. And here’s looking forward to our next adventure. I know whatever the future brings it’s going to be awesome. It can’t be anything but when it involves someone as ugly as you. ZING1!

1 FYI: For those not in the know, Rick is not actually ugly. Quite the opposite. But in order to keep his ego in check, I have to remind him that he is, in fact, uggo.

Twelve Trips, Twelve Months

On Wednesday night, Aidan and I returned home from our 4 day adventure in New York City. Aside from the obvious excellent time that we had exploring New York, be that exploration of the visual, gastronomical, or booze-y variety, two other most excellent things happened while I was away.

First, I got to see Arlene. And, since item #130 on my Not-So-Bucket-List list was Travel to visit Arlene, and since I technically travelled to visit Arlene, although I may not have visited her in her home, it still counts. Hence, I’ve scratched item #130 from my list.

Of course, I’ve added another item on my list – item #242 – Travel to visit Arlene. The intent this time is that I must travel to her home. And stay for at least 3 days. The best and completely unintended part, is that the task must be completed 1001 days from today, which just so happens to be September 18, 2014. And that date, dear friends, is her birthday. Too cool.

Arlene and me, on the subway to Prince Street.

The other most excellent thing that happened while I was away, was the completion of item #195 – Travel once a month for twelve months. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure this one would happen. Not because I didn’t think I could travel that often, but because life could have gotten in the way. Thankfully, despite some rather crazy events this year, I was still able to complete this task. And I’ve had a blast doing it. So much so that I’ve outdone the original goal. That is, I’ve travelled at least 13 times in 12 months. Apparently I don’t know how to count.

Does this mean that I’m going to stop travelling? Hells no. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I suffer from the wanderlust. Of course, I’m not necessarily going to stick to travelling once per month, although I am going to do my best to keep this up. My vacation days aren’t just going to go on vacation without me, right? Having said that, my intention this coming year is to hit up Ottawa in January to visit some friends, and I’ve already planned a trip to Calgary to see Rick and go ice-climbing (as described here). After that, I’m hoping to hit up Japan, or maybe Malaysia, or some other such country with Rob, and there has been discussion about a trip to Vegas, as well as Los Angeles.

The point is, my travel days are far from over.

How the nerds calculate circumference

Anyway, because I’m all about summaries and statistics and tables and suchlike, I offer you a summary of my trips for 2011 in table form, with means and other statistics to boot! I’ve included the length of each trip, the number of flight legs involved, the total distance travelled (round trip), and a cost breakdown (flight, hotel, and ground transportation costs).

My travels have included 4 trips to Ottawa, 3 trips to New York, 2 trips to Calgary, 1 to Chicago, 1 big ass trip to Hawaii, 2 adventures in British Columbia, 2 conference based adventures, and a trip to Montreal. In all, I’ve travelled in 5 of the 10 provinces this year, and have seen 3 different states (4 if we include the fact that I landed in California on my way to Hawaii).

The total distance travelled – 39393 km – works out to about 98.3% of the circumference of the earth (which, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia is 40075.16 km). Hmm, perhaps my goal next year should be to travel the distance of the circumference of the earth. Clearly it’s possible, and clearly it’s math-y, and clearly it’s nerdy. Three things I love. You know what, this challenge is officially on the list.

So just like that I’m crossing off items #130 and #195, and adding items #242 and #243. Next year is going to rock.

Trip summary 2011

Month Destination days legs km $flight $hotel $ground $total
Jan. (I) Ottawa 3 2 706 $245 $0 $70 $315
Jan. (II) Hawaii 16 6 15908 $971 $978 $200 $2149
Feb. New York 4 2 1172 $363 $572 $0 $935
Mar. Ottawa1 1 2 706 $0 $0 $0 $0
Apr. Calgary & Revelstoke 6 2 5413 $568 $100 $200 $868
May. Ottawa 4 2 706 $250 $253 $200 $703
Jun. Wolfville & Halifax 8 2 2528 $0 $185 $240 $425
Jul. Chicago 3 2 1402 $353 $0 $130 $483
Aug. Ottawa 3 2 706 $499 $0 $80 $579
Sep. Montreal 5 2 1008 $507 $171 $280 $958
Oct. Victoria & Calgary2 8 4 6794 $0 $0 $0 $0
Nov. New York 5 2 1172 $380 $480 $0 $860
Dec. New York 4 2 1172 $380 300 $100 $780
Total 70 32 39393 $4516  $3039 $1500 $9055
Average 5.4 2.5 3030 $347  $234 $115 $697

1 This travel was completely covered by the Public Health Agency of Canada, as the trip was related to several meetings.

2 A portion of the travel costs were covered by my job (as I was attending the Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada, or the GEOMed Conference)

It’s A Dark Wet Hole. It Must Be Fun.

Looking sexy and ready to do some caving.

Yesterday Rick and I went caving, and I can sum up the adventure with one word:


It was an incredible experience. Absolutely incredible. I’ve gone caving before with my brother many years ago, and Rick and I did some caving when we were exploring Hawaii and also at Rattlesnake Point, but this was caving on an entirely different level.

As with all of our adventures, the day began with a requisite visit to Starbucks, and then we were on our way to Canmore to meet our caving guide Russell and four of Rick’s friends; Chloe, Sanjay, Rachna, and Roshan.

Yup, it's really called Rat's Nest Cave

The adventure itself took place in Rat’s Nest Cave. Despite the fact that the name might read as some place that most wouldn’t want to go, after strapping on our gear (harness, knee pads, overalls, helmets, headlamps, and smiles) we dove in. Pretty much literally. The beginning of the cave consisted of a short descent while attached to guide lines. Not too challenging, and definitely in an area where room was readily available.

We eventually made our way to the area of the cave where we needed to rappel to a lower level. I’ve never rappelled into anything, but it was something I’d wanted to do for a long time. Of course, I was the last in the line for our group so I sat around for a bit while I waited for each person to, in turn, drop into the lower layers of the cave. Once it was my turn, Russell quickly set me up and then I jumped into position. My first few steps were a bit, um, shaky. But I think this was mainly due to not knowing what I was doing or how to really step (despite some very clear instructions from Russell), and not so much a function of nerves, because I wasn’t nervous at all. Once I got the general feeling for it, I made my way to the bottom of the cave without incident. I definitely want to do some more of that.

Happy to be here!

The environment of course was not to be an open one for long. That is, we soon found ourselves in some very tight, and for some of us, uncomfortable situations. For whatever reason, most of these tight squeezes don’t freak me out (too much). Don’t get me wrong; there is an air of discomfort, and my mind sometimes says what the hell are you doing? but it passes quickly and I just push on through wherever I’m going.

I guess my mettle was first tested when we were presented with an offshoot from one of the main caves we were in. Sanjay crawled into it head first on his belly. I decided I’d go on my back, but realized immediately that this wasn’t going to work for me. Not because I was freaked out, but because I had a bunch of snacks stuffed in my pants that were getting in the way. Anyway, after adjustments and such, I followed Sanjay’s example and crawled on my belly. On the other end of the tube was a small cave that allowed those of us that crawled through a chance to sit and relax. We gave ourselves a minute to recoup, and then turned around to return to Russell and the remaining members of our group.

I'm loving this. Clearly.

Next up, the Laundry Shoot. The Laundry Shoot is essentially a straight and narrow drop that suddenly requires a 90 degree turn once you get to the bottom of it. You then have to crawl a little way until you hit another patch where you just slide down a tear shaped tube. It was awesome. While Chloe dove in head first right from the start, I opted to go feet first for the initial drop, then switch it up and go head first for the second drop. Amazing. I want to do it again, but all head first this time. Head first was definitely the way to go. So much fun.

Following the Laundry Shoot, we explored deeper into the caves while Russell taught us about stalactites, stalagmites, columns, deposits, etc. It was all truly fascinating, especially for someone who used to read geology books as a kid.

Before leaving the cave, Russell presented us with the ‘challenge’ cave. After Sanjay and Roshan had checked it out, I thought screw it. I crawled my way to the entrance and peaked in. It represented 7 metres of crawling on my stomach with very little room to move. My brain raced – Am I really going to do this? Yes. No. Yes. No. Sweet Jesus, am I insane? 

We're in a cave. It ain't nothing.

About a microsecond later, with the support of those behind me, I dove in. To get through this particular cave I had to crawl on my elbows and drag myself along in that way. I pushed as best I could with my feet but they weren’t really providing much help. In the middle of the crawl, the floor dipped a bit, requiring a bit of a back bend. Interesting, but not impossible. Near the end of the crawl things tightened up and twisted. The only way for me to get through was to put both arms out in front of me and wiggle-pull myself through. It was AWESOME! Once I made my way through, the cave opened up into a small chamber that continued to descend quite a way. I didn’t go down there as Russell hadn’t mentioned that we should and I figured I shouldn’t risk it.

Chloe. Chillaxing on the cave wall. I'm in a cave; it ain't nothing.

Shortly after I made my way in, Chloe popped through in typical Chloe fashion – all smiles. And then, despite being out of his comfort zone, Chloe and I helped pull Rick through. We were pretty much all smiles; laughing and amazed at what we had just done, and thoroughly enjoying the tiny chamber that we found ourselves in. I really can’t describe how amazing it felt.

Of course, to get out we had to go back from whence we came. Chloe led the way, with Rick and I following behind. I got a bit too close at one point and ended up with a Rick-boot to the face. Thankfully I had a helmet on so it wasn’t too bad.

After that, my level of feeling awesome was through the roof. Sadly, the tour was all but over. We investigated several amazing geologic structures, stopped for snacks, and then made our way out. It was great to see the sunshine, but I could have spent a few more hours in the caves. Thankfully, I know I’m going to do this again.

A huge thanks to Rick for organizing this. A most awesome adventure, and something I won’t ever forget.


Chicago – My Kind Of Town

 Yesterday I continued my quest to travel 12 times in 12 months. I’ve successfully passed the half-way point; that is, I’ve been on 7 trips so far this year. For those who may have forgotten, the list includes Hawaii, New York, Ottawa, Calgary, Ottawa, Halifax & Wolfville, and now Chicago.

I arrived in Chicago yesterday morning after a 3:30am pick up by Red Car. I’m pretty sure no one should have to get up at that time. Ever. In fact, the only way anyone should see that time of day is if they are going to bed at that point.

The flight itself was uneventful, included a 10 minute cat-nap, and thank the FSM no screaming children. The woman next to me had doused herself in what I can only imagine was some sort of perfume you might find in the dollar store, but she was nice and I was too exhausted to really care.

It was great to meet up with Ben. He took the day off of work so that we could wander about and enjoy the city. After a quick but necessary shower to remove the staleness one tends to have on their body after flying, we headed out to a local eatery for some food. We spent the morning catching up and chatting, drinking coffee, sampling some local beers (specifically Goose Island Sofie and Goose Island Matilda), and then meeting up with some of his colleagues.

Of course, being the light weight that I am these days, I was drunk after 2 beers. That didn’t mean I was out for the count. It did, however, mean that feeding me more booze-y goodness wasn’t difficult because my ability to say no had apparently been drowned by the first two beers. Thankfully the booze consumption was spread out over the day, so while I had a great buzz going, I wasn’t (at least to my recollection) stumbling all over the place.

Note to the readers #1: I don’t get stumble-drunk, I get charming. Riiiiiiiight.

Note to the readers #2: Ben has informed me that I was trying not to stumble while walking home last night. Clearly the ground was uneven, as Note to the readers #1 clearly indicates that I don’t get stumble-drunk. Ha. Right.

I have to say that my favourite beverages of the night were found at a little bar called The Whistler. This place was amazing. All of the drinks were designed by the owners, and they were absolutely tasty. The two drinks that I particularly enjoyed were The Whistler Punch and The Viking Funeral. The Whistler Punch was light and refreshing – definitely a winning drink for a hot summer day. The Viking Funeral wasn’t as light, but it had an incredible spicy flavour. I’m going to have to go back to try them again so that I can better describe them both (and without the influence of the beer I had to start the day).

Anyway, we are off for food and further adventure.

Mom & Dad, You Might Not Want To See This

Prepping to climb Koko crater.

I stumbled on this video (below) about a week or so ago (via The Daily What), meant to blog about it, but then completely forgot. Perhaps the epicness of the video caused some sort of short-term memory loss. Or maybe it simply blew my mind.

Anywho, after viewing it I knew exactly what I had to do. And that, dear readers, was to email my friend and fellow wanderlusting nerd Rick. Specifically, I had to inform him that this particular little hike was something I felt we needed to do if ever we returned to Hawaii. And by if, I clearly meant when. Given that I’ve been there 3 times, you might think that I’ve had enough. But not so. There is so much to see and do there, I can’t imagine not exploring it again.

So, let it be known that the next time I visit Hawaii (assuming I’m not injured or incapable of movement for some bizarro reason), I will hike this. And I will make sure to have a camera strapped to my person so that I can record the awesomeness that his hike surely will be. In fact, this is now officially item #233 on my Not-So-Bucket-List list.

Friday Night Wanderlusting

It’s Friday night, and instead of going out and having fun, I’m staying in and trolling the interwebs in search of my next travel adventure. Yes, I’m really that cool. Okay, well I’m not staying in all night. I am going to wander the mall for a bit, mainly in search of a coffee. I could make coffee at home, but then I’d be a complete loser who stayed in on a Friday night. This way I can be a complete loser who wandered the mall on a Friday night in search of coffee. Zing!

So why am I spending Friday night trolling the interwebs in search of my next travel adventure? Well, partially I’m trying to figure out where I’ll next be heading to keep on top of item #195 on my Not-So-Bucket-List list, and partially I am suffering from a serious case of the wanderlust this eve, and partially I just saw a picture of Rick (whom you will probably remember from such great things as our trip to Hawaii, and my face-smashing adventure) doing an amazing jump shot in front of the Eiffel tower. Because he is currently on a 3 week vacation in Europe. Without me. And while he definitely deserves the trip, I am uber jealous and might hate him just a little. Or a lot. Okay, I don’t hate him, not even a little, but I am uber jealous and this has served only to stoke up the fires of my wanderlust. And once those fires get going, I can only sate them with the thought of a new trip. I am clearly a travel whore. Or maybe a travel addict. Let’s just play it safe and call me travel whore who is addicted to travel.

Anyway, as of today I am batting 6 for 6. That is, 6 travel destinations/round-trip flights in 6 months. This all in accordance to the rules that I set forth in my 12 trips in 12 months challenge (described here). Granted, I haven’t stuck to the original plan perfectly; my 6th trip only included Nova Scotia, and not New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island. But this is okay, as the only strict rule is that which states (and I paraphrase, because I’m allowed to do such things):

The only travel that counts is that which requires one or more plane rides.  Thus, allowed trips include local, domestic, and international travel that involves me travelling first to Pearson International Airport.

So here I am, perusing the intertubes. On a Friday night. Have I mentioned how cool I am?

Me and the wave. We're like best friends and stuff.After the race. Wet, cold, but feeling great.
After the race. Wet, cold, but feeling great.
The return of my homunculus.
Gastronomic Adventures in Ottawa
Outside Good Enough To Eat, prior to eating.
Outside Good Enough To Eat, prior to eating.
Dan, looking just as stylish in my mask

Trust Me, I’m A Doctor

So today I celebrate the 1st Ph.D.-versary of my dissertation.  That’s right folks, today marks the day when I brought my Ph.D. home from the university, after a very lengthy gestation period.  I can’t believe my little Ph.D. is officially 1-year-old.  For those of you that might not be aware or perhaps have forgotten, my Ph.D. dissertation goes by the name

Multivariate Spatial Poisson Mixtures With Applications In Disease Source Classification,1

but I just call her Ms. P. Mix for short.   One year old already – how time flies.

The most expensive piece of paper I own. Amazingly, it looks the same today as it did the first day I brought it home.

In all seriousness, my Ph.D. never would have been a reality if not for the help and support of so many people.  I do have to mention one person in particular; a certain Dr. Stephanie Dixon, to whom I dedicated my work.

For Steph; my sounding board, my confidant, my support, and the best friend I could ever have asked for.  I have no idea what I did to deserve someone like you next to me during this process, but I’m eternally grateful to the Fates for bringing us together.  You are my academic soul mate, my awkward cousin.  You have made me a better person, and I can never ever thank you enough for all that you have done for me.2

I wrote the dedication ages ago, well before my Ph.D. was even finished.  Amazingly, the words mean more to me now than they did to me then.

But, you might be thinking, what have I done since then?  And that is a very valid question.  I wondered that myself.  And being the list-making kind of guy that I am, I sat down and started to make a list.  I’ve categorized the list (as I’m a categorized-list-making kind of guy too), mainly for my own entertainment and reflection.  I present it to you now (in chronological order), for your reading pleasure.


  • My niece was hospitalized with flesh-eating disease (she’s fine now :) )
  • Steph and I had a Ph.D. Prom
  • I turned 35
  • I got some more tattoos (12 greek letters remain)
  • My first nephew (Ethan) was born
  • Celebrated Lobster-fest
  • I adopted Elliot


  • Winnipeg (May, 2010)
  • New York (May, 2010)
  • Europe [Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria] (June/July, 2010)
  • Calgary (September, 2010)
  • Ottawa (November, 2010)
  • Ottawa (January, 2011)
  • Hawaii [Big Island, Oahu] (January, 2011)
  • New York (February, 2011)
  • Ottawa (March, 2011)


Not-So-Bucket-List List Accomplishments

  • Finished my Ph.D. (item #2)
  • Taught my first Statistics course (item #7)
  • Taught Differential Equations (item #6)
  • Travelled to Manitoba (item #132)
  • Travelled to New York with Steph, and Gerarda, again (item #135, and #147)
  • Bought a new fitted suit (item #63)
  • Determined my net worth (item #36)
  • Went to Hillside (item #65)
  • Had a Ph.D. Prom (item #67)
  • Travelled with Matt (item #146)
  • Saw a live sex show (item #72)
  • Biked 30K, 40K and 50K (items #77, #78, and #79)
  • Travelled to Prague and Vienna (item #126)
  • Celebrated my 35th birthday in another country (item #119)
  • Travelled to Alberta to visit Rick, Karen, and Adam (item #122, and #128)
  • Walked the Athabasca Glacier (item #13)
  • Climbed Mount Yamnuska (item #11)
  • Ran 10k in 50 minutes (item #101)
  • Ran 12k in 60 minutes (item #102)
  • Ran another 10K (item #107)
  • Ran another 1/2 marathon (item #106)
  • Did a 30 day hot yoga challenge (item #98)
  • Went on 3 dates in as many months (item #120)
  • Went to visit Matt, Mark, and Jhona (item #137)
  • Had a scotch tasting night (item #44)
  • Had a wine tasting night (item #46)
  • Saw Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert (item #31)
  • Started a full time faculty position (item #1)
  • Set up a budget (item #40)
  • (Re-)Started a blog (item #121)
  • Travelled with Rick (item #148)
  • Hiked a lava field again (item #22)
  • Went on a helicopter ride (item #21)
  • Climbed an active volcano (item #23)
  • Went snorkelling (item #18)
  • Went skydiving (item #19)
  • Invited to speak at a conference (item #9)
  • Paid off over $15000 in debt (item #22)
  • Saw my first Ballet (item #23)
  • Managed to do 4 sets of 8 chin ups (item #38)
  • Saw Sarah McLachlan in concert again (item #39)

So how am I going to celebrate my 1-year-old Ph.D., and all that I have accomplished since then?  I’m going to go home, have a beer, think about all the amazing things that have happened in my life over the past year, and contemplate where I want to go next.  Oh, and I’m also going to go for dinner with 2 very awesome friends.  And not just any friends.  I’m going to dinner with the 2 people who understand the trials and tribulations of my Ph.D. in Statistics best – my fellow Doctors of Statistics; Dr. Stephanie Dixon, and Dr. Gerarda Darlington.  I’m so freaking lucky, it’s ridiculous.

Happy Ph.D.-versary to me!

1 Sounds riveting, doesn’t it? I can say without a hint of a lie, that each of the 272 pages are better than the last. If ever there was a page-turner, this was it. Okay, in all seriousness, I’m probably the only one that reads it3 without falling asleep after the first sentence.

2 P.S. No, it didn’t.

3 I probably could have just ended the sentence here, and it would have been just as true :)