49. Germany- Trip and Grouse Mountain

North Vancouver, Canada, 13.07.2017.

After two strenuous but exciting weeks, I finally managed to calm down a little today. So why not sit down and write another blog entry? Alright, here we go.

Roughly two weeks ago, on the 27th of June, I first flew from Vancouver to Calgary and then from Calgary to Frankfurt. Both flights were okay but I still don’t love flying so I felt a little bit stressed anyway. Back in Germany, I had much to do in the few days that I were there. First of all, I met Jana, a former colleague of mine in Herford on Wednesday afternoon. We sat outside and drank some coffee while it rained badly outside. We had a great time but unforunately, we forgot to make a selfie or picture. Next time, Jana. πŸ™‚ After that, I drove to my mum’s place and decided to run a little. It felt good to run “my” old trails again and to see the village in which I spent so many years of my youth. On Thursday, I spent the whole day working on my english and german tax returns for 2016. Very annoying and time- consuming but necessary. In the evening, my mum and I decided to go out and have dinner at a mongol restaurant in a nearby town. The food was really great (I like fresh veggies cooked on hot plates!!!) and I guess that my mum will probably go there again. I think I will definitely go there again in January 2018 when I will make my next trip to Germany. Unbelievable, that I have already spent over 6 months in Canada and that my current visa is only valid for another 5 months and 3 weeks. It is really crazy how time flies…

German-Wine
Shopping at Lidl’s. Some really cheap wines. Would be great to have them here in my store πŸ™‚
Running Trail
Running trail near the village I grew up in. Brought back great memories.

On Friday morning, I finished my work on the tax returns. After that, I drove to Cologne to meet my buddies from the “Captain’s Mafia”, German Army. We used to work together in the same department back in 2012 and 2013 and we all decided to keep in contact when our ways parted. Back in 2013, we were all active soldiers and we all had the rank of “Captain”, expect for Martin. But we knew that he would be promoted to Captain soon so he already counted as a Captain. Today, one of us got promoted to Major and the rest of us have left the army, so we are mostly reserve Captains today. But technically, we are all still members of the “Captain’s mafia” and that will never change. Up to now, we used to meet once or twice per year. Last time, we met in London, England last summer when I was still working for Lidl UK. Now we met in Cologne but there were only three of us since Martin had already headed to Canada to spend his holidays there. I will meet him next Monday here in Vancouver and I am already looking forward to that.

photo
Captain’s Mafia in London, August 2016. God, I look so bad and silly on some pictures. 😦
German-Army-Crew
Only 3 members of the Captain’s Mafia at the meeting on 30th of June 2017.

On Saturday, I drove to Olpe in the morning to meet another former Lidl colleague of mine, another Martin. When I was still working for Lidl Germany, our management areas were close to each other and we used to meet for lunch (DΓΆner /Donair) or to run together. When we met on Saturday morning, we ran our usual route around the Olpe Biggesee and chatted a lot while doing that. It was good to meet him again in person and to exchange some information. Guess what: We also forgot to take a picture so I can’t post anything here. After the little workout, I drove to Wesseling near Cologne to play in one of my boardgame groups. It was really nice to meet Stephan and Ralph again and to play “Dominant Species”, a very entertaining strategic game. I managed to place second out of five and we had a lot of fun playing and chatting together. When we finished playing, I headed off to Cologne to meet a good friend of mine, Glenn. We partied all night long and then finally drove to his place early on Sunday, around 5 am. What a night! On Sunday, Glenn and I chilled all day and watched some movies. Then, on Monday, I drove back to my mom and spent the rest of the day to prepare my lawsuit against my former German Landlord. He still owes me a lot of money and since he decided not to answer to my e-mails and letters anymore, I now need to take this action. I am excited to see how that turns out but I am quite confident that the judge will make a decision in my favor. And that was pretty much the last thing I did in Germany before I flew back from Frankfurt to Vancouver on Tuesday. Busy busy days in Germany and a lot to do. But I am glad that I was able to meet so many friends of mine. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet ALL of my friends and all of my family members. Oh well, there is always a next time, in this case: January 2018.

Boardgame
Playing “Dominant Species” with Stephan, Ralph, Torben and Matthias. I played the yellow birds. πŸ™‚
Cologne
Partying with Glenn in Cologne, Saturday evening, in the “Schaafenstrasse”.

Since last Tuesday, I am finally back in Canada and very happy about it. There is still so much for me to discover in the greater Vancouver area and I was also excited to get back to work. Yes, you read that right, I love my work. Great people there, much to organize and to do in my store but still manageable and a good environment overall. But let’s not talk about work here but about a great place in North Vancouver: Grouse Mountain. After five days of work, I had a day off last Monday so I decided to finally visit Grouse Mountain. Without going into too much detail here (I feel this blog entry is already getting too long), I have to say that this is a great place and I would always recommend a visit to anyone. I did the famous Grouse GrindΒ in 46 minutes which is not bad but also not an overly great time. That performance confirmed to me once more that I need to train more uphill- running and mountain trails if I want to succeed in the upcoming Ultra- races in September and October. That’s why I decided to buy an annual pass for Grouse Mountain so that I can come back anytime to run the Grouse Grind for training purposes. Let’s see if I will be able to improve my time a little in the future….

Grouse-Grind
The start of the Grouse Grind. Sooooo many stairs. πŸ™‚
View-NV
View on North Vancouver and Deep Cove from Grouse Mountain.
Goat-Mountain
View from the top of Goat Mountain.
Trail-GM
The way back to Grouse Mountain: Sliding in the snow while trying to keep balance.

On top of Grouse Mountain, I was rewarded with a fantastic view of the whole Vancouver region. After a short rest, I decided to hike to the top of another nearby mountain, Goat Mountain, and I found myself scrambling through snow again. But it was still an enjoyable trail and I also managed to not get a sunburn this time. Some parts of the trail were pretty steep and occasionally, the “trail” was more like a snowsled on which you had difficulties to get up but much fun to ride down. So the way back from Goat Mountain to Grouse Mountain was not so much of a hike but more of a sliding- and skiing adventure. Since I still had another appointment on Monday afternoon, I decided against doing any of the other activities on top of Grouse mountain, like Zip- lining and Helicopter flying. However, I still managed to see most of a bird show that had already begun when I returned from Goat Mountain. They had a trained bald eagle, a great owl, a falcon and another bird whose species I can’t remember, sorry. It was great to see these great birds and their different flying- and hunting skills. Check out the pictures below!

Grouse
A “wild” grouse I saw on Grouse Mountain. Naming story of the mountain checks out. πŸ™‚
Owl
Such a beautiful and talkative owl. It was about to loose one of its feathers.
Bald_Eagle
The bald eagle “Hercules” wandering around while her trainer explained his hunting habits.

After the bird show, I took the 4-minute skyride back to the bottom of the mountain. Although it was a Monday (and not the weekend), I still had to wait in line for about 30 minutes because there were quite a few people who wanted to take the skyride as well. Thus, I would not necessarily recommend to visit Grouse Mountain at the weekend when it will probably be even busier than it was last Monday. Anyway, it was a great day and I am happy that I got to know another of Vancouver’s attractions. πŸ™‚

Hmmm, I just realized that I have written more than 1500 words again. So I guess it’s time to stop writing now. But before you quit this page, check out this great rock song from Linkin Park. Such a good song for your running playlist. Or your car playlist. Or your chill playlist for the beach. Or whatever, it’s just a great song, believe me. πŸ™‚

Linkin Park – Easier to run

41. Preparing for the marathon

Vancouver, Canada, 26.04.2017.

Just nine more days and I will be running my first full marathon. I have to admit that I am already pretty excited about that. At the same time, I still have a few doubts about my current training condition because I have not done more than 20 kilometers per session lately. One the one hand, any distance up to 20 kilometers is absolutely doable for me in the moment, not a problem. On the other hand, however, I don’t know how my body will react if I keep pushing past these 20 kilometers. In any case, I will find out about that soon and I am not really scared to do so. One way or the other, it will be fine I guess. One of my strengths is to just take the pain and keep running. I have done it before and I will be able to do it again so I don’t really worry about it.

In the past weeks, I managed to intensify my marathon training. On average, I ran roughly 50 kilometers per week in three session. Also, I went hiking on Easter Sunday which possibly also trained my leg muscles. I wanted to hike up to Mount Seymour but I wasn’t properly prepared for that because there was still a lot of snow above the 900m- line and it was really cold and uncomfortable up there. So I decided to turn around and come back another day with warmer clothing. To me, these weather issues here in Canada are still really amazing. At the start of the hike, it was about 15 degrees warm and sunny whereas three hours later, I had to hike in knee-deep snow with temperatures below zero. Just amazing! Anyway, I will return and conquer Mount Seymour another day, probably some time in the summer when the snow is gone. In the meantime, I will focus on hiking less mountainous routes starting next Sunday. Already looking forward to that because I got to know someone who also likes hiking so we decided to go hiking together regularly in the future. Will be lots of fun I think!

Snow-Trail
Snowy trail on the way up to Mount Seymour.
Cove-Lookout
Deep Cove Lookout next to Mount Seymour Road.
Lookout-1
View from Deep Cove Lookout. Sadly, my camera could not capture the nice panorama adequately.

When it comes to sports, I am also still climbing really actively. After having done the belay course, I started doing belay routes with Gordon, another climber at the gym. He is a lot more experienced than me so I can learn many things from him. In any case, I still manage to make a lot of progress each time I go climbing which is really encouraging. However, I think I still need to work a lot on my technique before I can go climbing outdoors. But since the outdoor season has not begun yet, I guess I still have enough time on my hands to prepare myself for this next step.

Aside from all of these sport activities, I also spend a lot of time at work, getting to know my staff members and the organization of my store. As of now, I think I already gained a good overview of the current situation and the most pressing problems in the store. There are quite a few things that need my attention now and in the next months but I am confident that my team and I can make some significant improvements in the future. Work itself is really enjoyable so I am still very happy that I got this position.

Wild-Waterfall
Huge waterfall and large uprooted tree on the trail up to Mount Seymour.
Waterfall-1
Close-up of one part of the huge waterfall.

With all the time I am currently spending at work and doing sports, I had to cut down on playing board games and card games recently. Unfortunately, I was unable play at the MAGIC- Amonkhet prerelease last weekend because I had to work. In addition to that, I havn’t had the time yet to join the local board game group because I simply did not have the time. But I will do that after the marathon when it makes sense to cut down a bit on the running training. πŸ™‚ It is always nice to meet new people and in my experience, local gamers are always very nice and fun people to be with.

Wrecked-Bridge
Wrecked bridge on a hiking trail.
Young-plant
New life grows in a puddle of mud. The bright green of the plant is NOT photoshoped.
BMO
6th of May, going the full distance. My aim is to stay under 5 hours.

Rather short update this time but there is not much more interesting stuff to talk about in the moment. So, as usual, I will conclude this blog entry with a music advice. Today’s song is a good piece of German rock and it always pushes me when I listen to it while running. Also, think this the artist’s best song overall. Check it out:

Stefan Weidner – Stille Tage im Klischee

37. Long-term decisions

Vancouver, Canada, 11.03.2017.

When I came to Canada in January, I had basically drawn up two viable plans what to do:

1. The Gap-Year plan: Originally, it was my plan to to just travel through Canada during my Work&Travel year, to get a break from work life and to just enjoy my life. I thought about spending a few weeks on Vancouver Island, to drive to the Rocky Mountains again, to go up north to Yukon and then to drive all the way across Canada by car to finally end up in Newfoundland and Labrador at the end of the year. Of course, it was also part of this plan to visit all the sights and parks that were on the route from western Canada to the east.

2. The residency plan: This plan focused on trying to get a decent job somewhere as quickly as possible, to move there and get my own apartment, to then apply for permanent residency and thus to gain a foothold here in Canada. Of course, this plan is the more “responsible” and “mature” plan as it satisfies the common view that you are supposed to work somewhere and be a “good member of society”.Β  On the other hand, this plan is also less fun and not so much different from what I have been doing so far in my life. So not a great change, really.

To be very honest, I was totally unsure what to do initially when I arrived in Canada in January. I had no real preference for a plan although I clearly saw their individual benefits and drawbacks. However, it was not at all easy for me to weigh them properly and make up my mind what I really wanted. On the one hand, the Gap-Year plan promised to be more fun and it would reward me with a million priceless impressions and great experiences. On the other hand, this Gap-Year would then clearly be a one-shot thing and I would have to go back to Europe at the end of the year and it would become increasingly more difficult after this year to try to gain a permanent foothold here in Canada. So what do you do if you don’t know what’s right? I solved this problem by prioritizing the plans while not discarding either of them. Upon arrival in Canada, I decided to follow the residency plan first and to try to get a job quickly. Then, in case of an unfruitful job search, I was prepared to discard the residency plan in favor of the Gap-Year plan by the end of April. Why not earlier than the end of April? Well, Canada is mainly a cold and snowy country. So leaving the lower mainlands around Vancouver earlier than May does not really make much sense if you want to go up north and see a bit more of the landscape than just the white layer. Also, most of the parks do not open that early in the year and hiking is not too much fun if you have to do it in the snow. So basically the residency plan was my primary plan and the the Gap-Year plan was my “Plan B” or backup- plan. Now why am I writing about all this now? Well, my current situation has significantly changed in the last days and it looks like my primary plan has worked out well. But before I go into details here, let’s take a look at a few pictures first.

Buch
The third book in the triology. Overall, three very good books with a great story line but “The Chess Men” can’t quite keep up with the quality of the first two books. Peter May is a great author, you’ll like him.
Shells
A few shells I found when jogging on the beach.

Last week, my future employer, the BC Liquor Stores, finally received the last reference they needed to take me on board. So now I will start to work as a Senior Store Manager for them in North Vancouver on the 20th of March. However, before I get my own store there, I will be trained in several other stores nearby. So it looks like my primary plan worked just fine and I can now try to apply for permanent residency here. And this is exactly what my next step will be once I have settled down in North Vancouver. Next Monday, I will take a look at a few apartments there and hopefully find a good place to stay there. But I think that will not be a huge issue as I am not too picky about my living places.
Despite the current development, I have not at all given up on my Gap-Year plan yet. And if all goes according to my grand master plan, I don’t have to give up on it anyway. In case I get my permanent residency, I can always do my all-around-Canada-trip at some point in the future. So nothing is really “lost” and by pursuing my current plan I keep most of my future options open. I feel I can always take a Sabbatical later in my life and still do the trip once I managed to acquire my permanent residency and worked for a few years here in Canada.
Interesting side- note: Last week, I also received an E-Mail from Parks Canada telling me that I was chosen for an interview for the site-manager position at the Banff Upper Hot Springs. How unexpected. Last time I heard anything from this application, I was just buying my car. Must have been late January I guess. But there was no chance I would go to that interview as I had already signed the job offer of the BC Liquor Stores. Still interesting to see how long a recruitment process can take. Six weeks in between the end of the application process and the decision who will be invited to an interrview. That is long! Also, I am quite thrilled to see the success of my applications. In total, I wrote just 7 applications, I got invited to interviews 2 times, attended one interview and got the job. Can’t say I am not a bit proud about that. πŸ™‚

Now that should be enought talk about work and me drawing up strange plans. Let’s write a bit about the fun things I did in the last days. I managed to read a bit and I also continued to go jogging regularly (see both pictures above). Now that I know that I’ll be staying in Vancouver a bit longer, I decided to sign up for the Vancouver Marathon on May 7th and do the first full marathon in my life. Seems really fitting that I will do it here in Vancouver on a stunning course that will also lead through Stanley Park. You can check out the course map here. Just a really really nice course I think.
Also, I will get a year membership in one of the climbing gyms in Vancouver and start climbing regularly. Climbing is not only great fun but I realized that it trains my upper body and arms a lot and I feel that this really benefits me. Up to now, I only trained my legs by running and completely neglected my upper body. Possibly not the greatest choice.

When it comes to regular fun activities, I managed to attend some board game evenings in the store in Ladner and I also visited the CatFe again twice. They have three very cute Main Coone mix breeds there, all siblings. They are really friendly and curious and two of them ended up on my lap, enjoying my cuddles. I expressed my wish to maybe adopt them but after having checked the currently available apartments in North Vancouver, it looks like this is not going to happen. Most of the landlords do not want any animals in their apartment and those who tolerate cats will only tolerate one or two. That’s pretty unfortunate because I think this band deserves a second chance. However, I guess that many potential new owners will be deterred by their current age as they are already 10 years old. Now that does not deter me but I know that most of the people look for cats that are still young. That situation makes me a bit sad but there’s not much I can really do about it…

Cat2
Harvey (female) and me in the CatFe in Vancouver.
Cat1
Budddy (male), who sat on my lap for over an hour, enjoying my cuddles.
BoardGame2
Mare Nostrum Empires. I played the green Greece, trying to fend off the Romans and the Babylonians at the same time.
BoardGame1
Castles of Burgundy. Second time I played it. Thanks to Stephan Valkyser, I already had a good insight into this game.

Last week I also managed to make a few trips to downtown Vancouver and I visited the Vancouver Public Library, the Vancouver Museum and the Space Centre. The library resides in a very interesting Colosseum- like building and it has a truly large collection, including some German literature. Unfortunately, they apparently also bought crappy books in the past as I found a copy of a rather infamous German author whose views are much questioned.
The Space Center is a nice place to go and their shows are really entertaining and offer some stunning views. So I can only advise to go there if you’re a bit interested in astronomy or Space exploration. Not the biggest or most thrilling exhibition but it is still worth to go there and take a look at it. Now I wish I could say the same for the Museum of Vancouver but I really can’t. Verena and I went there and we both agreed that this museum is rather boring and that it did not really entertain us. I have seen many better Canadian museums and I would not recommend seeing the Museum of Vancouver if you’re only staying at Vancouver for a few days…

Library
The Colosseum- like building of Vancouver’s Public Library.
Library2
Very surprised to find a copy of THIS book here in Vancouver. Not the best choice to invest the library’s money.

Space1

Space2
A very nice saying, displayed at the Space Center.
Car
Magnificent Oldtimer in the Museum of Vancouver.

Now that I’ve chosen to settle down in Vancouver, I suppose that I won’t be writing that many blog entries in the future anymore. Of course, I will still write about the exceptional events in my life but I also guess that it will start getting a bit more quiet in my life in the future. But that is okay, life can’t always be a rollercoaster ride. Thus, you should not expect so lengthy and frequent blog entries anymore. But we’ll see about that…
Ah, one last thing before I conclude the blog entry with my music advice: I just received my Parks Canada Discovery pass (see cover picture at the top of the entry) so I can visit every one of Canada’s National Parks for free this year. Anyone can apply for this pass and it costs exactly zero Canadian dollars as Parks Canada gives it away for free this year due to Canada’s 150th birthday. What a great gift! I wish I could do both: work in Vancouver and travel to see Canada’s National Parks at the same time. Not possible though. And again, it is always about setting priorities and making (long-term) decisions….

By chance, I stumbled over this interesting piece of music last week. And I simply put it on repeat and listened to it again and again and again. Until I got fed up with it at some point. But it is still a very good song so I happily share it with you here:

Aesop Rock – None shall pass

36. Canadian Entertainment

Vancouver, Canada, 02.03.2017.

Again, over one week has passed since my last blog entry and quite a few interesting things have happened. Although there are also job- related news to write about, I spent a lot of time enjoying my life in the past days so I had to choose the title for this blog entry the way I did. Okay, let’s start with the job news to get that out of the way first.

Last Thursday, the BC Liquor Stores sent me a job offer for the position as a Senior Store Manager. That was really quick and I was both, surprised and happy, about that offer. Of course I signed the job offer and I also prepared all the necessary documents for them to employ me. Now there are two more things that they will do before I actually get a contract: Firstly, they will check my criminal record and see if there are any entries at all. This should not be a problem as I’ve not yet committed any crimes. And secondly, they will contact my former Lidl superiors (=references) and ask them about my general performance and the situations I described in the job interview and the written assignment. Now of course I don’t know what my former superiors will tell them about me but I am pretty sure it will be a fair assesssment. In the end, there was no conflict at all when I left Lidl so I don’t expect my former superiors to be mad at me for any reason. But in the end, it is really up to them what they will tell the HR manager at the BC Liquor stores and I can’t really influence that. So now I will simply have to wait until they contact me again and then they will either offer me a contract or not. We’ll see about that. With regard to jobs, there is also another interesting development to talk about. BC’s government has finally posted its job advertisements for the Park Ranger and Senior Park Ranger positions. However, these positions are all seasonal so this does not really help me in the long-run. Still, I think it would be nice to work as a Park Ranger for some time and be paid for being outdoors in BC’s beautiful parks. Well, you can’t have it all, can you? The deadline to apply for these jobs is March 8th so I suppose there is still time for me to wait for a response from the BC Liquor stores before I need to do anything here. They should be done with their checks by then and if they choose to not take me on board after all, I can still apply for the Park Ranger job. We’ll see and I will keep you updated.

Now, let’s talk about the main topic of this blog entry: Canadian Entertainment. Yesterday, Verena and I finally went to an Icehockey match of the Vancouver Canucks at the Roger’s Arena. Originally, we already wanted to go to another game earlier this month but the ticket situation online was pretty confusing and ordering tickets through the official ticket center did not work at all. Also, the prices for weekend- tickets were much higher than the prices for yesterday’s match during the week. Still, we had to pay a little more than 60 dollars per ticket for seats of a rather lower category. That was quite the amount but the money was not wasted at all. It was a good experience to watch my first Icehockey match and to see how a sports match is presented here in Canada. Lots of entertainment, lots of commercials and in between that, you just watched the game. πŸ™‚ As a foreigner, I was a little intrigued by the two national anthems that were played prior to this “ordinary” league match. As far as I know, this only happens in Europe if the country’s national teams play against each other. But I may be mistaken here… It was also interesting to see that there was no separation of the opposing fan groups, neither inside nor outside of the stadium. In European soccer matches, this would be unthinkable. Then again, European soccer fans seem to bee much more involved with their club, the team and the match. In contrast to that, there wasn’t much cheering or loud enthusiasm in the stadium yesterday. The people just seemed to be there to relax, have a good time, drink a beer and talk a little while watching the game. Just a very different attitude that also created a completely different atmosphere than the one I got to know when I occasionally watched European soccer in different stadiums in Germany. It feels like the Germans take the game a lot more seriously and they treat it more like a fight that must be won than an entertaining event. However, I have never been to a German Icehockey match yet so I guess it is not that easy to compare these situations. In the end, the German soccer fans are known to be very involved and emotional at times and I don’t know if the same holds true for the German Icehockey fans. Anyway, it was a good experience yesterday and I am open to seeing another Canucks match in the future if the ticket price is acceptable. In any case, I don’t think that it is worth paying a lot more for the so-called “good” tickets as we still had a pretty good view on our “cheaper” seats. Finally, is it worth mentioning how the game ended yesterday? Well, the Canucks lost 2:3 in the overtime against the Detroit Red Wings and it wasn’t overly exciting. Both of the teams do not have a chance anymore to go to the play-offs so I guess the outcome of the game wasn’t really too relevant to anyone in the stadium anyway. At least I did not hear a lot of complaining on our way out of the arena.

canucks-1
In the stadium: “Canucks are for everyone”- campaign featuring the rainbow- colors.

And what else happened entertainment- wise? Well, Verena and I had a great night out in Vancouver and shared one of the craziest “drinks” I ever had in my life. The “Checkmate Caesar” is a roughly 0.6 liter big drink that has the following ingredients: Vodka, Tomato juice, clam broth, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Also, the glass had celery salt around its egde. I gotta say that was one of the most ugly drinks I ever tasted. But the food “garnish” that came with this drink was really good: A grilled chicken, a big hamburger, a small hamburger, a sandwich, a brownie, some onion rings and five chicken wings. Take a look at this crazy piece of food/ drink:

ceasar-checkmate
The “Checkmate Caesar”, served at the “Score on Davie” bar/restaurant, West End Vancouver.
score
The “Score on Davie” bar, West End Vancouver.
west-end
Rainbow crosswalk in Vancouver’s West End: The citie’s LGBTQ- quarter.

After having eaten, we again went to a show at the YukYuk’s (this seems to become a habit) but this time the show wasn’t that good, really. No need to mention the Comedian’s name here but the 20 bucks per ticket were not at all well invested, unfortunately. Well, as everybody’s humor is different, this was likely to happen at some point I guess…

And what else happened in the last days? Well, I bought my own climbing gear (harness, shoes, chalk bag and belay device) and tested it already in our current favorite climbing hall. It all fits well and it wasn’t that expensive, really. So now I can save the money to rent the gear from the climbing hall and I also have my own shoes which is a definite plus on the hygiene side. πŸ™‚

At the board game evening last week, I got to play a new game: Zombicide. Well, as the name suggests, the game is basically about killing Zombies and escaping from them after having completed a certain task. It is a cooperative game and although it is more about slaying Zombies than strategy, I like it and we had a lot of fun playing it.

floyd
One of the items belonging to my new climbing gear: The chalk bag “Floyd”.
zombiecide
Zomicide. Notice all the grey miniatures (= Zombie horde) on the board.

Finally, I also visited the CatFΓ© once more because a friend of mine tolf me that she had seen Main Coons there. Now I have had Main Coon cats myself and I really like a lot about them: Their thick and fluffy fur, their high pitched voice, their size (they are the biggest cat race!) and most of all their friendliness and gentle behaviour. So I went to the CatFΓ© to take a closer look at them. On that day, however, most of the present cats in the cafΓ© had already found a new home so even if I wanted to adopt one, there was no chance to do so. Maybe an opportunity will arise for me in the future at some point to have pets again, who knows?

cat2
Maine Coon- Mix “Marshall” at the CatFΓ© Vancouver.
cat1
Marshall’s brother.

Oh my god, over 1500 words again in this blog entry already? Time to quit writing I guess. But finally, as always, let’s have today’s music advice. In honor of the “Zombicide” board game, I choose to present to you:…. A rather strange Hardbass- song. Did I mention that I have a weird music taste? Probably…

Dr. Rude – Apocalypse

35. GP Vancouver and Job Interview

Vancouver, Canada, 21.02.2017.

I have to apologize. Bad habits keep returning. I can’t believe the last blog entry is already nine days old. Anyway, now it’s time to recall what happened in these nine days and there is a lot to write about. Undoubtedly, there were two highlights in the last nine days: Firstly, I played at the Magic GP Vancouver. Not the main event but great Sealed Deck side events. And secondly, I had a job interview at the BC Liquor stores for a position as a Senior Store Manager yesterday.

The Magic GP Vancouver began on Friday 18th, ended on Sunday 20th and I guess that there were probably around 2000 visitors at peak times. As there were no good events on Friday, I decided to only go there on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a complete disaster for me although the pool I got in my Sealed Event was fairly okay. Nevertheless, I went 0-2 in both of the first matches and this meant that I could not win any great prizes anymore. So I dropped from the event, drove home and used the rest of the day to prepare for my upcoming job interview. Then, on Sunday, I went back to the GP in the morning and began playing in another Sealed Deck event (Pro Tour Qualifier). The pool was fairly bad and I expected to lose my matches again but the opposite happened. I won all of my first four matches and I was only one win away from making the Top8 and the subsequent draft. That would have been really huge, what a turn of events!!! Then, in my last match, I had bad draws, had to mulligan in both of my two games and lost them without any real chance. Sad, really. Total loser as Mr. Trump would say. πŸ™‚ So I expected to be placed 2nd in my pod but then there was an unpleasant surprise. Because they determine the placings based on some freaky tiebreaker rules, I was placed 3rd instead of second. Too bad, because in third place, I got less than half of the prizes than the guy who placed second. What a frustration, really. I somehow felt I got betrayed and cheated and my mood dropped considerably. After having left the event, I began thinking about the situation again. In the end, I made my peace with the situation fairly quickly because it had not been a deliberate decision by someone to treat me unfairly but it was just a result of a rather strange tiebreaker system. Next time, this system may be working in my favor, who knows? Also, had somebody told me at the start of the event that I would place third in the pod with the pile of cards I opened, I would have laughed hard. So I guess I should be grateful for what I achieved because it was unexpected and more than I could have hoped for. In any case, it is always hard to accept such results if you’re an ambitious player and you want to win. And in Magic, I like it when my decks perform and I win. πŸ™‚ Anyway. After the event, I got my play mat signed by all the artist and I bought a great Goblin- Token card from the artist “rk post”. Unfortunately, the Donald Trump token was already sold out. Bummer!

deck
My BG midrange- deck without any great synnergy whatsoever. The deck’s allstar: Herald of Anguish. Won me at least 4 games. Notice the lack of good 4drops while playing 2 druids of the Cowl.
goblin
Got to start playing Red Aggro again and use this token. πŸ™‚ Great humor in this card.

Well, that was the GP. Then, on Monday, I had my first job interview here in Canada at the headquarters of the BC Liquor stores in Vancouver. Before beeing interviewed by two Regional managers and one HR manager, I had 30 minutes to analyze a Profit & Loss statement. Good thing I have already done that more than once in my life. So I felt it wasn’t a big deal, really. Then, the following panel interview went fairly well and I talked a lot about my past job experience. Of course I didn’t get an immediate feedback and it may take up to three weeks until they tell me if they want me as a Senior Store Manager or not. Also, I will not have a choice of store but they will tell me in which store they need me based on my skillset and the manager’s skillset needed in the stores that currently don’t have a manager. In any case, I will probably stay in the Greater Vancouver Area somewhere as they are currently only looking for managers over here. But hey, why not? It’s pretty nice here, I won’t complain about staying…

Talk about staying. Today I received the results of the English- test I took 11 days ago. On a scale of 1-12 I scored like this: Reading 12, Listening 11, Speaking 10 and Writing 8. Yep, I am mostly happy but the Writing mark puzzles me a bit. I had lots of time left when I wrote my answers and I felt they were fairly okay. So I don’t really understand why I only scored an 8 here. Well, that should not be my downfall I guess. In any case, I will enter these results in the immigration’s office questionnaire later today and see if it’s sufficient to apply for permanent residency or not. I’ll write about that in my next blog entry I guess.

And what else happened in the last 9 days? Verena and I spent a great Thursday together. We visited the Maritime Museum, enjoyed the sunny weather at Kitsilano Beach and went climbing again. Climbing was really great, I felt how I was already getting better at it and we had a lot of fun there. Verena was doing even better than me and climbed increadibly well. After the training, my muscles did not hurt nearly as bad as they did when we went climbing for the first time. In case I get the job at the BC Liquor stores, I will definitely look for a good nearby climbing hall and start doing that sport regularly. I really like it and if you haven’t tried it yet, just do it once. It’s a great experience. Also, you meet interesting people. Like the guy in the men’s dressing room. He stood next to me and yawned really loud. I:”Hey, someone’s really tired, huh?” He:”Oh yeah, and stoned”. I: “Uhh, okay. And climbing works when you’re stoned?”. He:”Hell yeah, I can only recommend it.”. I:”Right, go for it man.”. That’s Vancouver for you, great stuff. πŸ™‚ Of course, Verena and I also went to the YukYuk Comedy club on Thursday evening to enjoy some more great stand- up comedy. Yep, I keep going there regularly, it’s great fun. πŸ™‚

marmu
Vancouver’s Maritime Museum.
totem
The huge totem pole near Vancouver’s Maritime Museum.
kitsilano-beach
Sunny Kitsilano Beach. Clouds and Vancouver Downtown in the background.

Apart from all the sight- seeing, I also kept running regularly and, of course, I also played at the board game night at the local store again. Not much to write about this but a few interesting pictures to look at. See below.

alien-invasion
Some Alien- looking thing with tentacles at Tsawwassen Beach. No idea what it is but the plastic tentacles were hollow and had some hooks attached. Looked strange.
bald-eagle
Bald Eagle at Centennial Beach. German: Weisskopfseeadler.
concordia
Great board game I played for the first time: Concordia. I (black meeples) beat Dave (red meeples) by 4 points, lucky me! πŸ™‚

Well, that’s all for now I guess. When writing the next blog entry, I hope I’ll be able to report that I got the job and that I also started my application for the permanent residency. But we’ll see about that. πŸ™‚

Since the last music advices were all Rock/Punk titles, it is now time to showcase a Rap song again. This one is from Sido, a pretty popular German Rapper who has moved from Gangsta- Rap to a more Mainstream- Rap during the last 15+ years. Still, even today’s songs are pretty nice if you like Rap music.

Sido – Massafaka

33. Ups and Downs

Vancouver, Canada, 04.02.2017.

Less than 2 weeks have passed since the last blog entry. Significantly less. ^^ Someone’s keeping a promise. πŸ™‚ And this blog entry will also be a lot shorter than the last one. Everything according to plan, at least with the writing.

So, what happened during the last days? First of all, my car got repaired. I decided to invest a bit more money into it to get it to an overall good standard. For example, I decided to get a “new” (used) steering wheel (costs a hefty 300$) because the current steering wheel is already beginning to disintegrate. Well, no wonder after 19 years. And since I also decided to get new spark plugs for the engine (the old ones were really worn out), I had to bear a little incident today. But I will write about that later. Also, I washed my car from the inside and from the outside. And I realized that an “undercarriage” wash in one of the big commercial washing facilities is just laughable. There was a lot of mud and dirt under my car when I bought it. So I thought it would be nice to have it cleaned. However, the undercarriage wash in the commercial washing facility I went to was so weak and poor that most of my car’s undercarriage wasn’t even wet after the wash. Now, I am noone who likes to complain a lot but this time I asked for the manager and I showed him. He was not very helpful and told me there was nothing he could do. Then, he advised me to get a pressure wash for the undercarriage but could not even tell me where I could get one. Yeah, well, I guess I experienced better customer service already. Definitely the last time that I went to that car wash. I then googled a bit and found a self- service car wash with high pressure washing pistols. And I got my undercarriage cleaned, finally… So aside from a few minor repairs that still need to be done next week, I am fine now and the car is in a good state. And I love having a 4WD in the current snow weather here in Vancouver. It is a blessing and it works so extremely well, unbelievable. Really happy that I bought a 4WD and now that I have seen how it performs in the snow, I am really confident that the car will also be alright in any offroad-action. Can’t wait to take it for a ride somewhere…. πŸ™‚

snow
Winter has returned to the Lower Mainlands.

So what else happened? On Wednesday, I went to the board game night in “my” store. We played a really nice game called “Terraforming Mars”. Not too complicated but it offers a lot of different options and various strategies. And I like having lots of choices when it comes to games. So it was a great experience and I enjoyed it a lot. I don’t know how many points are considered a “good” score in the game but I felt I was doing well. Aside from the board gaming, I also started reading again. I don’t know exactly when I read my last book but I think it must have been sometime in 2014. That was not intentional but rather a reaction to the shortage of available leisure time I had when I worked for my last employer. Anyway, now I bought a book at a local store and I already read it. Very nice story, very entertaining and overall an enthralling book. So after having read this book, which is the first book in a cycle, I went to the same store and just got the second one of the cycle. Can’t wait to see how the story continues. Anyone who likes to read crime thrillers and who has a connection to Scotland will probably love this book. Try it!

board-game
Terraforming Mars. This game is not yet on sale in Canada but will be soon. Current copies are U.S.- imports.
book
Great crime thriller. Setting in Scotland, outer hebrides.

Yesterday, Verena convinced me to go Ice Skating with her in the Hillcrest Rink arena. Now I don’t like Ice Skating. Why’s that? I tend to fall a lot, I am not good at it and there are a lot of things I like better. But hey, I am in Canada now. So I suppose I have to at least try to do those things that Canadians do. And in the end it was quite the nice experience. After initial difficulties, I got more and more confident and managed to even go a bit faster in the end. And I didn’t fall a single time so that was good. But I was pretty close to falling several times…. Must have helped that I did some Inline- skating in the (more distant) past. Although I think that it is a lot easier to brake with Inliners. In any case, I enjoyed it and maybe I will do that again some time. Just to get a bit of practice. Not that I will ever be able to play Ice Hockey in the end, I am still light years away from that. πŸ™‚

hillcrest
Hillcrest rink arena, south of downtown Vancouver.
eisschuhe
I had to lend some Ice Skating shoes but they were overall okay.

Today, I got up early to do the half Marathon I already talked about in my last blog entry. It was a quite expensive one as well since I had to pay nearly 90 Dollars for the entry. Well, the later you enter, the more it costs. Still, 90 Dollars is quite a lot. Anyway, I got in my car this morning, started it and drove roughly 2 kilometers. Then, the engine check light went on. Great stuff! No choice but to drive to the nearest car repair shop and let them have a look at it. As I suspected, the mechanic that had replaced the spark plugs on Friday made a mistake when he did that repair. So it’s not really the car’s fault that it “broke down”. In any case, I had to leave my car there and there was no chance I could still make it in time to the half Marathon using public transport means. Bummer! I would have loved to run in the current cold snow setting. Would have been a great experience I think. Interestingly, I already had a bad feeling when I drove the car yesterday after they had changed the spark plugs. It felt like the motor was slightly louder and there were more vibrations when it was idling. Sometimes I just hate it when I’m right. In the end, the car could at least be fixed today so that I can use it tomorrow. Well, there will be more half Marathons I can run this year so I guess it’s no big deal. Next time….

Tomorrow, I will help Verena to move her stuff from her current apartment to the new one she got in downtown. No big deal, I guess that will be done quickly. After that, I plan to go to Granville Island south of downtown or visit one of Vancouver’s museums. And in the evening, I’m invited at Jen’s Board Game night. Really looking forward to that. I will probably miss the “Super Bowl” but I don’t really care much about that. I don’t have much of a clue about American Foottball anyway and since it’s an American thing, I don’t feel obliged to watch…. Next week, I will focus a bit more on getting a proper job again. So after the car issue is resolved now, I should now put some more effort into writing applications.

Today’s music advice is from one of the most popular and best Punk bands, Green Day. I first listened to the song on the flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver and really liked it. The rest of their new album “Revolution Radio” is also pretty nice so that anyone who likes Punk Rock can buy that album without second thoughs. The chosen song also reflects the current situation on earth quite well (Trump, etc…), think about it!

Green Day – Troubled times

32. Encouraging developments

Vancouver, Canada, 30.01.2017.

Time is running when you’re having fun. Or when you’re busy. 2 weeks have passed by and I haven’t written anything for the blog. Sorry for that! Well, I will try to make up for this by wrinting a longer entry now. Yes, it will be a bit longer because a lot of things have happened in the last 2 weeks. Let’s recapitulate:

In the days after the last blog entry, I continued writing applications and I did quite a bit of running. Then, on Saturday, 21st I did my first half marathon of the year in Langley, next to Vancouver. The Yeti-Set-Go Half Marathon was a very “exclusive” event with only a hand full of people doing the half marathon. Actually, we were around 15 people overall so the event was even smaller than the Coigach Half Marathon in Scotland last October. But there were really nice people and the weather was also quite good for a run. However, I was really unprepared for this run. In December, I could not train because I was sick for quite a while. Also, I was busy clearing out my apartment. And now, in January, I only ran a couple of times and none of the training sessions was anywhere near half marathon distance. So I decided not to push the matter but to go steady and without a hurry. Means that I finished in 1:51 hours, definitely not the best time ever. But hey, it was okay for my current state of training. Also, just in case I will start going even longer distances in the future, I need to start managing my power a bit better. That means I should probably rather run a 2:00- pace so that I don’t start dying after the first half of a full marathon. Anyway, these are thoughts for the future I guess. We also got really nice gloves for the run and I proudly wore them. Check them out!

hm-langley1
The start/ finish line. You don’t know it’s there….
hm-langley4
Place of the run: The Tynehead Regional Park in Langley, next to Vancouver.
hm-langley3
Soooooooo fluffy!
hm-langley2
Done after 1:51. First finish in 2017. Felt like a real Yeti in this run…. πŸ™‚

Next weekend, there will be another half marathon right here in Vancouver. I don’t know yet if I want to take part in that one as well since my current training status hasn’t changed much in the previous days. Thus, a similar result to the Langley- run can be expected. That is why, on the one hand this run would not make much sense. But on the other hand, I could try to run a 2:00 pace and see how that feels after 20 kilometers. I don’t know yet what to do. Possibly, I will make a spontaneous decision here. When running in the “city” in the last days, I finally found the official US-Canada border crossing and also a very very interesting junction. So let me also share these pictures with you before I change the subject to my new car. Yes, my new car. πŸ™‚

border
Official US – Canadian border crossing at Point Roberts.
crossing
England meets Germany in Canada. Good times.

Alright, let’s talk about my new car. About 10 days ago, my German bank finally told me that they wired the money to my Canadian bank. Finally! It was about time. Then, it took 2 more days until the money arrived here in Canada. Once that happened, I started looking for a car. Since I have no clue about cars or mechnical things in general, I tried to get as much information and advice as I could. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I had two different cars inspected by professional mechanics to find out if they were any good. Turned out they were crap and I should not buy them. Which I did not do. One was a Dodge Durango, one was a Toyota 4Runner. The latter, however, was a rebuild car that must have been in a severe accident. It’s owner must have forgotten about that as he continued to claim that the car was all good. Well, I knew better and told him I wasn’t interested anymore. At that point, I had already met several different people who kept telling me that a Toyota 4Runner was a good buy. I am especially thankful for the initial advice in this direction which came from Corey&Kelly. Thanks again! So I continued looking for a Toyota 4Runner. I found a decent 4Runner in Surrey and although it was already 20 years old, it had only 94.000 kilometers on it. Japanese import, steering wheel on the right side of the car (I don’t care about that. Done it before in England!) and its japanese owner claimed it was in perfect condition. Well, as I don’t know anything about cars, I wanted to see its papers and have it inspected as well. It turned out that the guy was trying to sell the car for nearly 5 months now. A 4Runner! These usually sell very very quickly. He was asking 7200 Dollars for it which is an o.k. price if the car is as good as he claimed. Then he tried to start the engine and the car only came to live after a lot of effort. Great. Then it turned out that the radio was broken. Oh well. Then I made an appointment at a local repair shop with him standing beside me. After I phoned the shop, he told me he would need 40 Dollars as a compensation to go there. Because it would be his working time that he needed to invest for that. Great service, isn’t it? I then asked him who would pay the mechanic if it turned out that the car has more issues than he claims. He replied that this would be my problem. Now, I am a rather patient person. But when he then went on to say that he has no more time to “play games” and that he was done with the conversation, I was very close to tell him to f**k off. Anyway, I didn’t do that but I told him I would consider his offer. Then I drove off to my next appointment (see below). He later texted me that he didn’t want the 40 dollars anymore to go to the repair shop with me. In any case, the whole thing didn’t quite feel right to me. It was a gut feeling that there may be more problems waiting for me, especially when trying to get insurance for a “newly” imported vehicle with right hand drive. In any case, I then went to New Westminster to take a look at another car. Also 4Runner, built in 1998 but with 360.000 kilometers. Yep, that is a lot. But as of now, I only need that car for one year. And its price was quite low at 2600 Dollars. I had a very long chat with its owner, a very kind and helpful dealer named Ken. He told me about the car’s issues and even adviced me not to buy the car, anticipating that it would need a lot of repairs. He also said that this car was rather suited for someone who already owns a 4Runner and/or who was prepared to spend a lot of time and love trying to fix this one. We had a very good and long conversation and agreed to keep in contact about the car. Now I had a decision to make: A hopefully good car sold by a strange guy or a confirmed “problem-child” sold by a refreshingly honest and friendly dealer. Well, as I don’t know anything about cars, I felt like the presumably healthier car would be the better choice for me. So I texted the japanese guy, telling him that I would still like to have a mechanic to take a look at his car and that we should meet at the repair shop as previously planned. After a while, he answered that he had already made other plans for the afternoon since he thought I didn’t want the car anymore. For real? This was the moment when one of Bricktop’s famous quotes from the movie “Snatch” came to my mind. Anyone who knows that movie has an idea of what I thought in that moment. I won’t quote it here though. In any case, I had never told him I wasn’t interested anymore but after this event, I was sure I would not buy his car anymore. So I then organized a mechanic to take a closer look at the much more problematic 4Runner the next day. I then met with Ken and the mechanic and anxiously awaited the result of the inspection. As anticipated, the car had a lot of issues, including a lot of rust, also visible. But the rust underneath the car was only surface rust and I don’t care about the appearance of a car as long as it is safe and reliable. So the rust and the bad paint on one of the car’s sides do not bother me. The mechanic told me not to buy the car due to its obvious issues but hey, that decision is on me, right? Of course, Ken also got the result of the inspection. We talked a bit about it and made a plan how to fix the most important things right away. Ken was very helpful and very resourceful and organized a lot for me already on the same day. So on Saturday, when I showed up to buy the car, it already had a new wind shield and a new alternator. I then managed to get insurance for the car and we concluded the deal afterwards. Ken then also got me a new belt for the alternator and I had it installed at a nearby repair shop. He also called another repair shop that would then fix the damaged muffler and the brakes. This is where I went today and got these two things done for a mere 460 dollars. Call that a good deal! Overall, Ken’s performance was outstanding. An honest dealer with a great heart, a top-notch understanding of customer service and just a really really nice person overall. That is why I love Canada. Although people don’t know you, they help you and treat you like you are family. I am really really grateful for that, this is so great about this country….

Just now, the car is in another repair shop which takes care of all the other issues that need to be done. Fluids, steering, minor electric issues and other stuff. All in all, these repairs will cost another 1000 Dollars and then I should be good. The overall cost of this car will then be around 4200 Dollars which is totally fine with me. And it will have so many new parts that I won’t have to worry about much about future issues. Of course, it is always a risk to buy a used car, I am aware of that. So there is a chance that this car breaks down soon and I will have lost most of these 4200 Dollars. Then the decision was wrong to buy the car. But I am willing to take this risk. Even if the car fails me in the middle of nowhere, I am not too worried about that. When you’re trained to survive, what can possibly happen? Life’s a challenge and I am willing to take it. Besides, it just felt right to buy this car, I can’t even explain why. While I was very head- driven in the past, I started to listen to my heart a bit more in the past and up to now, I think that has benefited me quite well. In the end, my decision to come to Canada was definitely a heart- decision. Anyway, back to the subject. πŸ™‚Β  I will probably be able to pick up my 4Runner after having brought back my rental car to the airport on Wednesday. Really looking forward to that! Here is my new boy:

car
1998 Toyota 4Runner. My new companion for at least a year. πŸ™‚

So that is all about the car. What else happened in my life? I found out that Whippcream looks like an egg if she sleeps and you put half of a lemon on her. She didn’t even flinch when I did that. Did not wake up or complain about it. Can’t stop mentioning that she is a really great and friendly companion. πŸ™‚ At some point in the future I definitely also want to have a cat again. Just now, it is not the right time for that.

Job- wise, I got a phone call from the HR manager in Banff, asking me about my working permit. I explained it to him and he said that I have a “strong application” overall. So I am happy that there is a positive reaction and people seem to consider me as a candidate. All I need now is a job interview. Let’s hope for the future. But now that I have dealt with the car- issue, I will continue to focus on the job- problem. Probably, I will write some more applications during this week. That is as much as I can do job-wise in the moment.

In the meantime, I also enjoyed my life in Vancouver. I spent 2 more nights at the YukYuk’s comedy club in Vancouver. Definitely one of my favorite places here. Great show with Tom Buehler (see picture) and Steve Gaskin roughly two weeks ago. And last Friday, I went there with Verena, a work-and-travel girl from Germany that I met online in one of Facebook’s Canadian work&travel groups. We had a great evening and also visited one of Vancouver’s clubs, the Roxy, afterwards. As Verena works in an associated restaurant, we didn’t have to pay for entry and for the (soft) drinks. Never had that before in club!!! Thanks again, Verena, we should do that again sometime!

Also, I have spent quite some time in the local Comic Store, playing all kinds of games with the lovely folks there. Feels good to be able to enjoy my hobbies here in Canada as well. No matter where I went in the world so far, I always found nice people to play with, be it Magic, board games or poker. Just amazing, I feel I am really privileged. πŸ™‚

skytrain
Vancouver Sky train. Favorite means of transportation if you want to go quickly from A to B in Vancouver.
egg-cat
The “cat- egg”. No harm was done to any cat for this picture.
energy-empire
Energy Empire, Manhattan Project. Great board game that allows for many different strategies.
yukyuk-buehler
Tom Buehler on stage. Great show at the YukYuk’s Comedy club. Love that location!

Alright, this is about as much as I can and want to write about in the moment. Also, I just realized that I already wrote some 2400+ words. Guess I have to write more but shorter blog entries in the future. Well, whatever. πŸ™‚ Lastly, let me conclude with the obligatory music advice. This song is rather aggressive and I don’t like it for its lyrics. However, it has a certain touch to it that stimulates my adrenalin- production. Great when you’re running uphill…

Drowning Pool – Bodies