Taking Lucid Dreams to a New Level

As long as I can remember, I’ve had very vivid dreams. Where some people can tell me the general plot of their dream and who was present, I could tell you what the characters were wearing, the layout of the room we were in, the exact emotions I was feeling, and any other number of finite details. I kept a dream journal once, out of a curiosity of whether I might be able to interpret some of them, but it was ridiculously time consuming. I could wake up from a dream and start scribbling in a notebook, and my arm would get sore before I’d finished. I have dreams in that journal that take up more than ten letter-sized pages, front and back. I don’t have dreams, you see, so much as subconscious full-length motion pictures.

But last night’s dream took the cake in a way that compels me to write about it. I’m going to give you a basic outline of how the dream panned out, and at the end I’ll explain why this one in particular freaked me out a bit.

So the dream took place in the area of the Kearl Lake plant where I used to work. There’s an area set aside from the actual plant where that area’s workers have trailers set up for lunch rooms, changing rooms, offices, and so on. That’s where I was. I was wearing all my outdoor work gear; boots, coveralls, outerwear, toque, etc, and I was wearing a backpack. As near as I could figure, I’d just arrived for my shift, but I couldn’t seem to recall how I’d gotten there. Additionally, it was nighttime, even though I work day shifts.

So I’m wandering around the trailers, and there seems to be some kind of party going on. For a while I was just wandering around confused and couldn’t figure out what was happening, but after a while I realized that PCL (one of the construction companies that works on the site) was throwing some kind of festival or something. I could go into great detail, but suffice it to say that there were parades going up and down the streets, carnival rides in between the site equipment, and food stands around the trailers.

Aside from the crazy carnival stuff occurring, there were a few things that differentiated this dream from reality. For one thing, one of my cousins was there, even though he works at a Sobeys store in Nova Scotia. I remember him trying to tell me something about the woods outside the site, and he began sinking into some kind of quicksand. It turned out to be a joke he was playing on me. Ha ha, very funny. Then my husband’s cousin, who is working on becoming a continuing care assistant (also in Nova Scotia) appeared, and she started dragging me in and out of the trailers, snagging treats and things for me, which I stuffed in my backpack. At one point we were guarding some kind of large signature board, which, evidently, everyone who visited the carnival was supposed to sign. Sometime after this I went looking for my coworkers, but every trailer I went into looked the same, that is, a lunch trailer with no appliances and three people I didn’t know sitting there looking at me like I was nuts. I kept leaving and moving to another trailer, and it kept being the same trailer with those same three people. Eventually, at some point, I realized that people were lining up for the bus to take us back to camp, and I wanted to go join the line but my boots had disappeared and I couldn’t find them.

I really could go into a lot more detail, but for the purposes of this story, this is all you need to know: the dream made very little sense. It wasn’t an outrageously insane dream with purple elephants and giant plants trying to eat people, but it was definitely removed from reality. There were people there who shouldn’t have been, things happening that shouldn’t have been happening, and all in all nothing made any sense.

So here’s the weird thing…I was absolutely convinced it was real. Remember at the beginning when I said that I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten there? I was genuinely freaking out throughout the entire dream because of that fact. I could remember falling asleep in my own bed at home after spending the day with my husband and daughter, and then all of a sudden I was at the work site, wearing my work clothes. Throughout the dream I kept trying to find my supervisor to tell him that I thought I was losing my mind because I couldn’t remember anything from the past 6 days and I had no idea how I’d managed to get on a plane and show up at site without recalling any of it. And yes, I’ve had dreams before that I would have sworn were real while I was dreaming them, but this one was truly intense. I can actually remember thinking, “The only way this would make sense is if its a dream, which I know it isn’t!” I can vividly recall paying particular attention to the way my legs felt when I walked, the way the wind cut at my face, the way my fingertips burned from the cold, and thinking, “I can feel everything, so I have to be awake!”

Needless to say, by the time I woke up I was pretty freaked out. I’ve never had a dream quite that vivid before, one in which I was actually desperate to prove that it was a dream, but every instinct and physical sense I have was telling me otherwise. It was a new level of weird, that’s for sure, which is why I felt the need to share it.

So how about it? Have you ever had a dream like this, that was so unbelievably vivid you were actually starting to think you were losing your mind? Please share, so I don’t feel like the only lunatic here!

Nova Scotia’s Curse and A Sneak Peak

I loved Halloween when I was little. I loved dressing up and running around in the dark, trying to hit as many houses as possible so I could go home with my enormous bag of candy and sort the good stuff from the stuff I’d give to my parents. And in all the Halloweens I can remember, I only recall a particular couple during which weather was an issue. There were a few during which the winter weather was sneaking in early, so we had to wear extra layers under our costumes in order to stay warm, but I only remember one or two Halloweens when it rained.

Sometime after the last year I went Trick-or-Treating someone in Nova Scotia must have displeased the Halloween Gods. It has now rained almost every Halloween since I can first remember staying home and handing out treats. I plan on braving the misty ickiness with my daughter and an umbrella because this is the first Halloween that she’s old enough to actually hold out her bucket and see what happens, but it disgusts me that this situation has become a tradition around here. It’s no wonder that we see so few kids out on Halloween these days. Who wants to go door-to-door when you’re soaked by the end of the first street? Well, whichever kids are willing to brave the weather this year will at least get their effort’s worth at our house…our treat bags are the BOMB.
Aside from my whining about Halloween weather, I’m also writing this post so that I can share a bit of my NaNoWriMo novel planning…a synopsis I wrote a couple of days ago. The madness starts tomorrow! Arrrrrggg!!!!
Victoria MacKinnon is battling a deep depression. Her world fell apart the day the man she loved left her and she has no idea how to put the pieces back together. She hates her job, but she can’t bear to return to school. Her family is worried about her, but she can’t bring herself to talk to them. Her best friend, who has been in love with her since grade school, is becoming increasingly desperate to “rescue” her, but she won’t allow herself to be rescued. Her only solace is in the bottle.

But Tori is special, even if she doesn’t know it yet. Another world is calling to her… A world of her dreams that have been suppressed for many years… A world that desperately needs her to save it, and won’t wait for her to figure out how to save herself.

Airport Rage

I used to tell people that I’d never travel anywhere far because you’d never get me on an airplane. I was terrified of the things. I figured you wouldn’t get me past the gate without landing yourself a large pile of vomit to clean up. I held on to that belief until my 28th year. My first ever trip on an airplane brought me out west for work. It wasn’t a choice to step on that plane; it was a financial necessity. Surprisingly I found that airplanes don’t bother me at all, at least not as far as my stomach is concerned. Traveling by plane, however, has brought to my attention a host of other issues that bother me a great deal, and because that’s the way I roll, I’m going to share some of them with you today.

Plane Peeve #1: The lack of space
I know that this is a common complaint amongst all airline customers who can’t afford first class, but until I began traveling via plane myself I never really understood the true insanity that is the lack of space in airplane seats. For those of you who may have never traveled via plane, let me paint you a picture. I am 5’1″ tall and approximately 155 lbs. A lot of my weight is also muscle, so the woman you are now imagining is probably thicker of body than I am in reality. I’m not saying I’m a skinny bitch (not by a long shot), but I am not a large woman. I’m short and small, and in other words I don’t take up much space. But when I’m in an airplane chair I feel like I’m obese. Even if people of similar size sit next to me, and we all try to take up as little room as possible, chances are our arms are going to be touching for most of the flight. And that doesn’t even consider the leg room, which for most people is effectively non-existent. I’ve had flights where I was getting kicked in the spine every ten minutes just because the person behind me was uncomfortable and needed to shift a bit. This kind of thing is annoying at best, but when your flight is several hours long it becomes a very difficult test of your patience.

Plane Peeve #2: The lack of food
Admittedly, this one depends on the airline, so for the sake of this post I’m going to talk about the worst offender: Air Canada. I’ve been on a lot of Air Canada planes over the past four months. And in those four months I’ve gotten exactly two free snacks, both tiny bags of pretzels that my toddler would have wolfed down in 2.4 seconds. And both of those were on flights from Sydney to Halifax, which for anyone who doesn’t know, is only a 45 minute flight. On my longer flights, the ones ranging from 2 hours to 5.5 hours, I received nothing and was expected to purchase food if I was hungry. I know, I know, some of you are probably saying, “Dear lord, you poor thing, having to pay for food” in a terribly sarcastic voice, but consider something for a moment: my flights are costing my company somewhere in the range of $1000 per one-way trip…..at $1000 a pop, you’d think Air Canada could afford a freakin’ candy bar or something.

Plane Peeve #3: Seat-Swappers
Okay, here’s the thing: if you’re booking a flight and you want to choose which seat you’re going to be sitting in, you have to pay a fee. I don’t know what the fee is with other airlines, but with Air Canada it’s something like $30. A silly fee, really, but if you’re already spending several hundred dollars on the plane ticket that extra $30 isn’t going to break the bank. And yet, on almost every plane I’ve been on thus far, there has been at least one parent with a kid who refused to pay the fee in order to ensure that the two of them would be sitting together, and then went around the crowd during boarding to try and convince some sucker to swap seats with them. I hate this. For one thing, if you want to make sure you and your child are sitting together, pay the damn fee like everyone else who wants to choose their seat ahead of time. For another thing, you’re holding up production, trying to convince strangers to do you a favor while a line of people behind you are trying to get to their seats. Oh, and one more thing…these parents always get PO’ed when the stranger says no, without considering the fact that this person probably paid the fee to choose the seat you’re asking them to leave. Just…just smarten up, people.

Plane Peeve #4: Overbooking
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand why or how this happens, but nearly every flight I’ve been on so far has been overbooked. First off, how the hell do you sell seats that don’t exist? There should be some kind of system put in place to stop this exact thing from happening. I know, I know, it’s probably the airline’s way of ensuring that as many seats as possible are filled if someone cancels or doesn’t show up, but it’s a sick and twisted way of going about such a thing, especially considering that most people don’t find out that they don’t actually have a seat until they show up for boarding. Just as bad as overbooking in the first place is how the airline goes about dealing with the issue if the person who doesn’t have a seat absolutely HAS to be on the plane…..that is, they ask for volunteers to give up their seat. The reward for giving up your seat and (maybe) leaving on a later flight? A $200 voucher for a later flight. Call me crazy if you wish, but I really don’t think $200 that you have to spend on the same airline is a fair exchange for giving up a seat that probably cost you three times that much in the first place, especially considering you have no real guarantee of getting on a later flight any time soon.

Plane Peeve #5: They just don’t give a rat’s backside
As I’ve mentioned more than once, I’ve had some pretty rotten luck with some of my flights thus far. I’ve had some pretty ungodly delays, missed connections because of delays in previous legs of a multi-segment flight, and I’ve had flights cancelled all together. And in each of these situations, Air Canada (oh look, them again) has given me the customer service equivalent of a shrug and a grunt. The most frustrating example I can give is when I was heading home on a re-booked flight after the night that my flight home from Alberta was cancelled due to thunderstorms. I had numerous issues with this particular excursion, but the most unbelievable was when my flight from Montreal to Halifax was delayed so long that I missed my connection from Halifax to Sydney. I asked an Air Canada representative what I should do and she told me to try to rebook on a later flight. I then explained that the next closest flight I could find would have me waiting in Halifax for over 24 hours, an amount of time during which I could easily drive the entire length of Nova Scotia three times. Obviously I wasn’t going to hang around in Halifax for over a day when I could rent a car and be home in 3-4 hours. The representative literally, and I mean literally shrugged at me. And that was the end of the conversation. She didn’t give a flying [expletive] whether I got to the end of my route or not, and felt no obligation to reimburse me in any way for the leg of the flight that I clearly wasn’t going to take. This is the exact same attitude I’ve dealt with every time I’ve had an issue (which has been all but one flight). I can’t speak for other airlines, but Air Canada couldn’t give two pinches of [expletive] about their customers, just so long as their seats have been paid for in full.

I’m not an angry person, I’m really not, but I feel that these are issues for which I am justified in feeling some level of rage. Disagree with me? Okay, whatever, I can’t make you see my point. But agree with me? Let me know! Share your horror stories! You know what they say: misery loves company. 😛

Call This Help?

It appears that the only problem with pre-scheduling my posts for during the work rotation is that when I get home for my off-days I forget that I have to, you know…manually post some entries. I’d like to try and fix myself of this issue if at all possible. One of the big reasons (I suspect) that I’ve been unsuccessful with blogs and the like in the past is because I have no concept of “regular updates”, which as it turns out is a bit important.

In my defense, I had a friend visit from away for four nights, and during three of those nights we devoured a large, large amount of alcohol. A large amount. I may be recovering for another three or four nights.

But I digress. This is an overdue post that I should have made about a week ago when it was originally relevant.

About a week and a half ago there was an article in the local newspapers, detailing a rather frustrating issue with our province’s apprenticeship board. Without going into a great amount of detail, some lawyer (of course) apparently discovered that the apprenticeship board does not actually have the authority to accept work hours that were obtained in other provinces. As an overwhelming number of Nova Scotia apprentices work outside Nova Scotia (i.e. where the jobs are), this is a bit of an issue. It was a topic of much contention out on the work site. But it’s not the main point of the article that bothered me so much…what really bothered me was a quote by an apprenticeship board spokesman that stated how they were trying to help apprentices through this issue and that they were “all about” helping apprentices through to completion of their apprenticeship.

In response to this quote I wrote an emphatic FaceBook status about just how “helpful” I’ve found the apprenticeship board to be over the years. My husband then pointed out that the spokesman I was addressing was unlikely to read my FaceBook page and suggested I submit my status to the newspaper. I did so, expecting nothing to come of it, and was contacted by a family friend a few days later to let me know that he’d just read my letter.

Not the most enormous deal in the world, but pretty exciting to me since it’s technically my first real publication. 🙂 Confidence!

If anyone is interested in reading the letter that I wrote, I submit to you the link to the online version. My letter is third one down, entitled “Call this help?” and signed (obviously) Tracey Tobin.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/letters/130162-voice-of-the-people-august-27-2012

Launch of My Dreams

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

24. Describe your dream launch party

Unlike the previous post, I can actually answer this one because it’s my “dream” launch party and thus does not have to make sense if I’m totally off on what a launch party is supposed to be like.

Obviously my family and friends would be there, especially my daughter because I love any excuse to show off how adorable she is. 🙂 There would be lots to drink, and even more to eat – I would want tons of treats, finger foods, sweets, everything you’ve got! There would definitely be some excellent music (stick to stuff that was produced before the turn of the millennium…I don’t care how old and un-hip that makes me sound), and I would strongly encourage dancing.

Basically what I’m describing here is a Cape Breton wedding reception, but hey…a party! 😀

The Blind Leading The Blind

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

19. How to plan a book signing

Jumping the gun a little here, are we?

As an as-yet unpublished author, I’m not really qualified to answer this question. For that matter, I don’t believe I’ve ever even been to a book signing. Do they even have book signings in Nova Scotia?

I was actually considering skipping this one because I logically can’t answer it, but it didn’t seem to be in the spirit of the “challenge”. Instead I’ll simply say, come back to me in a few years on this one. 😛

The Incredible Journey

Alternate title: Why Air Canada should be burned to the ground.

I have no more of a temper than the average person. I may even be inclined to say that my temper is a little more tempered (see what I did there?) than the average person’s. I’ve been known to let my emotions fly, but if you could see inside my brain you’d also see that a large percentage of my most violent rages were kept safely inside my imagination where they could do no one any harm (except possibly myself).

This past week can not be counted amongst that ‘large percentage’. This past week my rage grew in leaps and bounds, and those who were near me at the time got to hear some rather imaginative strings of profanity. It was all the result of the actions of a major airline that evidently enjoys seeing just how much they can cheese their customers off.

Air Canada: herein after known as The Devil’s Own Airline.

For those who don’t know, or who are just stumbling across this blog entry while surfing the web, expressing their own hatred for The Devil’s Own Airline, I currently work in the oil sands of Alberta, while still living back home in Nova Scotia. My shift is two weeks on, two weeks off, so every two weeks I’m flying 3/4 of the way across Canada, either heading out to work, or heading home. On the date in question, Tuesday July 31st, I was to head home, along with some 40 of my coworkers.

Now, the thing about “heading home” day is that the only flight we Eastern Canadians can get out of Fort McMurrary, that also coincides with bus schedules and the like, leaves Fort M at 12:20 am. If you’re like me and you sometimes screw up your am and pm when it comes to the 12s on the clock, that’s 20 minutes after midnight. While not nearly as big an issue as the others that would arise later, this is my first strike against Air Canada. I have it on good authority that many companies, my own included, have asked Air Canada to put more flights on out of Fort M, as these companies are shipping thousands of people back and forth across the country every week. Air Canada said…no. That was pretty much it. No. No, we evidently don’t want any extra business, thanks, we’re fine.

Whatever. I’m no business person, but…yeah. I’m not going to get into it.

Anyway, our flight leaves at 20 minutes past midnight. This is doubly unfortunate because the buses that ship us from camp to the airport (a 2 hour trip if the traffic is good) don’t run past 7 pm or so, so we are generally dropped off at the airport at about 6 pm. You math geniuses out there have figured it out, but for the rest of you that means my coworkers and I have a 6 hour wait before our plane leaves. Because of this extended wait, it has become a custom for many to travel down the road to the Nova hotel to hang out in their lounge, or else catch a taxi into town to find some food and/or drink. It’s a completely reasonable thing to do with a 6-hour wait time, but on this particular day it would prove to exacerbate our upcoming torments.

You see, only a few of my coworkers and I decided to stay at the airport…but those of us who did had decided to sit in the airport bar, have a bite to eat, and watch the London 2012 Olympics on their tvs. From this area of the airport we could neither see the Arrivals/Departures screen, nor could we hear any of the announcements being made over the loudspeakers. By the time one of the men  happened to be walking to the washroom and glanced up at the flights screen it had been approximately two hours since our 12:20 am flight had been cancelled.

The next little while was, of course, panic. The man who’d noticed the cancellation immediately began calling everyone back from the hotel/restaurants/bars/etc that they’d run off to and very soon the airport was full of panicked and upset oil sands workers. My buddy ran back to the airport bar to get me and tell me what had happened, and for a moment I thought he was screwing with me. I generally fall for these sorts of things, you see, but I was in fine form tonight…until I looked up at the screen and saw the big red “Cancelled” for myself. Then my stomach dropped like a bag of bricks. I spent several minutes after that texting my husband while the wings I’d been eating worked black magic on my stomach and my coworkers tried to work out what the hell we were going to do.

As it turned out, Toronto airport (which was our first of several layovers) was experiencing some pretty nasty thunderstorms and everything had shut down. May I note here, for anyone who is not from Canada or has never flown before, that this is probably the worst airport that could have shut down. Toronto International is a major hub and I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say that more than half of cross-country flights go through there. So it wasn’t just we lowly oil sands workers who had been caught with our pants down…it was half the country.

Now, thunderstorms aren’t exactly something an airport can control. No one is blaming The Devil’s Own Airline (or any other airline for that matter) for an “act of God”, as that would be foolish. No no…the blaming comes as a result of the series of events that occurred in relation to the thunderstorm issue.

First and foremost, as I imagine many of you would also do, my coworkers and I ran to the Devil’s Own Airline desk in the Fort M airport. Surely these people would be able to give us a few answers, tell us what we should be doing. Oh, how naive. Before we’d even found out that our flight (along with many, many others) had been cancelled, these nice ladies had had their computers locked out. Let me impress that point on you a little further: The Devil’s Own Airline actually blocked their own employees from being able to help paying customers whose flights had been cancelled. Literally, their computers would not let them do anything. The reasoning they gave had something to do with not knowing how long the storms would last, whether or not the planes would eventually be able to fly, and not wanting every customer to change their flight (thus possibly ending up with some empty planes). In other words, it was a financial decision. People all over the country were kept from obtaining any help with their cancelled flights because The Devil’s Own Airline didn’t want to inadvertently waste fuel on a not-full plane. Look at the tears I’m crying for them. ._.

So anyway, the desk ladies couldn’t help us. The only suggestion they could give was to either go to the “cancelled flights” page of the company’s website, or call the hotline. I checked the website immediately, via my iPhone, but when I gave my booking reference number the site quickly informed me that it had, like the desk attendants, been blocked. It began to seem to me, at this point, that The Devil’s Own Airline actually wanted us to all just sit around patiently and wait like good little paying drones. I am not patient. Just saying.

So it was now approximately 10:30 pm, and my 40+ coworkers and I were gathered in the airport, utilizing the only method left to us. That is, calling the hotline…along with the rest of the goddamn country. The first guy to get through – after approximately two hours on hold – was immediately swarmed by the rest of the crew, the idea being that he would pass the phone on after he got his flight re-booked. We were soon stymied again, however, as the call center attendants refused to let him do this. Their argument was that it was unfair to all the other people who were calling in and waiting on hold. Now, while I understand the reasoning behind this decision, it ignores a certain issue…this being that not all of us had cellphones. We were a two hour drive from camp, stuck in an airport with only one public phone, and approximately 20% of our crew didn’t have a cellphone. This meant that those without a phone would have to wait until those with a phone were done. Since the wait time on the hotline was approximately 2 hours, that meant that some of our crew had to wait 4 or even 6 hours before able to speak to a representative, by which time there were simply no possible flights left. How exactly is that fair?

By the end of the night (approximately 1 in the morning), about a third of our crew had weaseled their way onto a flight heading to Calgary (from where they had no idea where they were going to head next), about another third had managed to get new flights leaving the next day, and the other third were unable to get anything until Thursday evening or sometime Friday. Let me reiterate that: we had been driven to the airport on Tuesday evening and some of our crew had no chance of leaving Fort McMurray until Friday. All the time while on their days off.

My buddy and I were two of the lucky ones to get flights the next day, Wednesday. Our original flight would have been from Fort M to Toronto, then to Halifax, and for me to Sydney. Our new flight had us going from Fort M to Calgary, then to Montreal, and after an extended wait we’d be on to Halifax and Sydney. The new bookings would take us twice as long as our original ones, but by the time our 2:30 pm flight was drawing near we had heard a million and one worse horror stories. The boys who had flown to Calgary the night before had gotten stuck there. A few boys were getting home to New Brunswick that day, but were landing on the wrong side of the province and would have to drive a rental several hours just to get to their vehicles, after which they’d have to drive several more hours to get home. And some terribly, terribly unlucky guys had decided to stay at the Nova hotel and try calling the hotline in the morning…their laid-back attitude got them stuck in Fort McMurray until Saturday. Saturday. So all in all, my buddy and I were feeling pretty lucky as we made a beeline for our 2:30 flight.

As we were boarding our flight to Calgary, however, I heard the first of what would turn out to be a number of vexing situations: our flight had been overbooked…by ten people. This amazes me still. How do you sell 10 seats that have already been sold? Needless to say, 10 people didn’t make it onto the plane. I can only imagine how those people must have felt, especially if they had been one of the many people who had already had to rebook their flight due to the thunderstorms. But the best part? Even if they’d been sitting in the airport all day, waiting for the flight, these people only found out they weren’t getting on their plane when the plane started boarding. They didn’t tell them until the last possible minute. The only thing I can figure is that The Devil’s Own Airline was hoping that 10 people simply wouldn’t show up, allowing these people to fill the plane…I doubt that train of thought comforts the 10 people who didn’t get on the flight that they paid for and were waiting all day to get on.

So my buddy and I made it to Calgary. Calgary was fairly uneventful, but I will say this: after a three-hour wait for our connecting flight, not only was the plane delayed by almost an hour because the flight attendants hadn’t shown up yet, but the plane was goddamn overbooked by 8 people! Now I was starting to be amazed. Again, I ask, how the hell do you sell seats that are already sold?! If this is common business practice, I want to spit on the face of The Devil’s Own Airline’s CEO. Flying standby is one thing, but you can’t sell people tickets showing that they’re getting on a damn plane and then tell them that they can’t get on the damn plane because you sold them non-existent tickets!

On to Montreal we went, and a 7 hour wait through the middle of the night. Fun times, those. Trying to sleep in airport seats is an amazing experience, really. You should all try it. [/sarcasm]

As a quick side note that has nothing to do with The Devil’s Own Airline, the security check employees in the Montreal airport take their jobs way too seriously. The girl at the front of the baggage scanner gave me the most evil eye I’d ever experienced when I asked her to speak English. The guy at the end of the baggage scanner opened every single pocket on my purse and laptop bag and rifled through every single item, bending up all my boarding passes and knocking a couple of makeup items to the floor, without so much as a grunt at me. Finally, the “random-check” guy grabbed my buddy and practically shoved him in the full-body x-ray, without ever explaining to him that he has the right to be patted down instead. All in all, we felt rather abused by the time we got to our gate.

Moving on with the exploits of The Devil’s Own Airline: after having a 7 hour wait, during which our gate was unexpectedly changed to be as far away from where we were as humanly possible, our plane was delayed by an hour because the pilot hadn’t shown up. Okay, sure, whatever, par for the course. But then it was delayed for another hour because the pilot still hadn’t shown up. Okay, now we’re starting to wonder how a pilot just doesn’t show up for his flight. But okay, we’re waiting, we’re waiting. I’m starting to get concerned because it’s going to be tight to catch my connection to Sydney, but we’re waiting.

Then our flight was delayed for three more hours. Because a new pilot was being flown in from halfway across the country. At this point the rage was palpable. Almost no one on that flight was actually going to Halifax. Almost everyone had connections to different places, most notably a couple who were heading to a wedding in Saint John’s, Newfoundland, and now had absolutely no chance of making it in time for the nuptials. Myself, I was now officially going to miss my connection flight from Halifax to Sydney. When I mentioned this to the lady at the gate desk her reaction was to shrug a little and tell me that I’d have to rebook that flight. As I’d already had to do this once, and it had required a two hour wait on hold, I decided to check the airline’s website to see if there were even any flights available. What I found was that the next flight I could get, that actually had some seats left, didn’t leave Halifax until approximately 28 hours after I would get there. For those who don’t know, you can drive the entire length of Nova Scotia in about 8-9 hours. I could have driven from Halifax to Sydney and back again twice and would still have a couple of hours to wait for my flight. As it turns out, my buddy had a van waiting in Halifax and was driving most of the way toward where I live, so he offered to drive me. I accepted and all was well, but that doesn’t make it better. For all intents and purposes, The Devil’s Own Airline stole money from my company by forcing me to miss my connection and being both unable and unwilling to help me get a new flight in a reasonable amount of time.

After that most recent delay, the gate attendant started handing out meal vouchers “for our trouble”. Guess how much money was on them? Ten bucks. Ten bucks, for being delayed half the waking day and missing our connecting flights during a time when it’s impossible to book new ones. Thanks guys. We really appreciated it, seriously.

By the time we finally got on our flight from Montreal to Halifax we had been delayed twice more (making the total delay time approximately 6 hours), moved to another gate again, and at the last possible minute the desk attendants announced (guess what?!) that the flight was overbooked by 8 people and they were hoping some volunteers would come forward to take a later flight. That is so wrong for several reasons. For one thing, everyone on that flight (presumably) paid for that flight, making it ridiculous to request that they not take it. For another thing, we’d been delayed SIX HOURS. Why are you just now bringing this up?! Clearly they were hoping that some people would, like…just give up and go home or something, but that is the most awful business ethic I’ve ever heard. For a final thing, why would anyone give up their seat on the plane, knowing that all flights for the next several days are completely screwed up and they’d be lucky to get on another flight in less than 48 hours?

And finally, to add insult to injury, as we finally stepped off the plan in Halifax, an attendant was waiting at the gate to offer us discount vouchers for our next flight. The vouchers gave no indication as to how much the discount might be, but did indicate that we had no more than 30 days to use them. One particularly angry customer (I believe he may have been heading to that wedding I mentioned earlier) snatched a handful of them out of the attendants hand, tore them into a hundred pieces, and scattered them all over the floor at her feet. Not one other customer so much as cracked a smile at the outburst, as we were all feeling that it was the calmest thing he could have done.

So, to reiterate, Air Canada workers were not only unhelpful during this entire ordeal, but they were regularly (and seemingly deliberately) obstructive. Every step of the way it seemed as though they were actually trying to screw up our flights, trying to make us as angry as possible. And I was one of the lucky ones who still managed to get where I was going less than 48 hours late!

And that, my friends, is why I think Air Canada should be burned to the ground. They clearly have no sense of business ethic or customer satisfaction at all. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Air Canada. Thanks for making me lose a full day home with my daughter after being out West for two weeks straight.

Day 1, New Adventure

It has been a loooooong day.

I got up this morning at approximately 1 am. Never a good way to start the day, but there you have it. I grabbed a shower, and tossed my luggage in the car while my husband was (groggily) getting his shower. Together we went in to wake the baby, and were surprised by her happy acceptance at being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night. The little bugger.

Then we drove to Halifax, a three hour drive in the middle of the night. Always a good time. 😛

Waiting at the airport was the worst, because while I was waiting to head down to security all I could think about was saying good-bye to the baby, which just made me feel more and more ill as the time went on. Strangely, once I’d said my good-bye and gone through security I felt much better, but up to that point, I definitely wanted to barf. Luckily the baby took the good-bye well. Don’t know if that makes me happy or sad.

Going through security was fun. (Ha.) I ended up having to take off my boots because apparently they have metal in the heels. Huh.

On to the flight deck! I’ll tell you, the airplane was not what I was expecting. Maybe it’s because I’d only ever seen the inside of an airplane via Hollywood representation, but I was amazed at how small it was. I’ve heard all the usual complaints about cramped seats and lack of leg space, but just the overall size of the plane itself really surprised me. I felt like I was in a toy. Really.

The flight itself was reasonably enjoyable. Contrary to my previous beliefs that I would be struggling not to vomit everywhere, I actually really enjoyed the takeoff. It was neat watching the ground disappear beneath us, and when we hit the clouds it was like a sea of fluffy snow in every direction. I wish there had been less cloud on the overall journey because I didn’t get to see much else, but it was still pretty neat. My only real complaint about the entire flight was the descent…not because of turbulence or anything like that, but because my ears felt like they were being stabbed by a hundred screwdrivers. I expected my ears would probably pop, since they pop just going over Kelly’s Mountain (hint: it’s not a high mountain), but I wasn’t expecting the level of pain that I experienced. O.U.C.H.

So I landed in Toronto and did the whole thing over again, except the second flight was longer and I was seated next to an exceptionally overweight man. I don’t want to sound mean or anything, but the guy’s arm and side-fat were spilling over into my seat and making me very uncomfortable. I can only imagine how he must have felt, squeezed in a seat that is far too small for him. Because of this little issue, the second flight was not as enjoyable as the first, but I occupied myself by watching Deathly Hollows Part 2 and an episode of Just for Laughs. This time, when we were descending, I tried chewing gum to help with my ears. It didn’t help. Even now, 7 hours off the plane, my ears still hurt and feel like they’re full of cotton. I’m getting a shower after I finish this post and I’m praying the steam helps clear my head because goddammit, ouch!

The camp itself is definitely a bit of a culture shock for me. As I mentioned before, I’ve never had the dorm experience, so I’m going to have to get used to things. The room is small, but nice, and there’s a women-only exercise room that is well-stocked. The dining area made me a little uncomfortable, simply for the fact that I don’t know anyone and the tables are meant to seat 4-6. I ended up sitting at the only table for 2 and shoveling my food in as quick as possible so I could get out of there. I’m not one for eating by myself, but I’m also not the type who can just stroll up to a group of people and ask to eat with them. Double-edged sword. In any case, the food was pretty good. There were several choices of veggies, meats, deserts, etc., and there’s also a “bag-it” room where you can get things like pre-made sandwiches and wraps, fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt and pudding, etc etc. It shouldn’t be too hard to find things to eat each day, is what I’m saying.

And now I’m sitting in my room, wondering what to do with myself for the rest of the night. I’m pretty exhausted, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep. The hot shower might help with that, I suppose, but it’s also still really light out. It’s hard to believe that back at home it’s almost 11 pm. I’ve been awake for 21 hours. Yikes. Maybe I will try to go to sleep. 😛

Tomorrow continues the adventure! Wish me luck!

Brain Dump

A few things, some bigger deals than others, have been happening lately, and since I find Sunday to be an excellent day to talk about the week that has just passed, you get to hear about them all. 🙂

– As previously mentioned, a week and a half ago I got a call offering me my job back at the paper mill. The job offer is conditional on the sale of the mill being completed, which is conditional on Nova Scotia’s Utility Review Board okaying the deal that the buyer has created with Nova Scotia Power. If the Board okays the deal, the buyer is hoping to start up the mill some time in August.

Personally, I don’t see it happening that way. For one thing, even though the government is probably going to be pushing the Board to okay everything and get the sale over with, I don’t think they’re going to agree with it right off the get-go. The deal the buyer and NSP came up with is, in my opinion, overly complicated, and also gives NSP the rights to 18% of any profits made by the mill. I’m sure everything will get the okay eventually, but I don’t think it’s going to be a quick process. I believe the Board will have a few issues with bits and pieces of the agreement, and that will slow things down.

For the other thing, I think the buyer is drastically overestimating how easy it’s going to be to get staff back in that mill. A large number of maintenance workers have already found other jobs or gone out West for work, and my understanding is that many of them are reluctant to come back. Why give up an excellent camp job for the absolutely sickening contract we were strong-armed into? Also we seem to have lost quite a bit of management (of the necessary type) and it’s going to take time to fill those positions.

No, I definitely don’t think that mill is starting up in August.

– The reason I bring up the uncertainty of when the mill might start up is because last week I got a call for another job…a camp job working for MMR Canada. This company will fly me out to the site where I will work for 14 days straight, then fly me home for 14 days straight, rinse and repeat. In the 14 days that I work, I will make more money than my husband and I made combined at the mill. In other words, it is a really good opportunity that is impossible to pass up. Even if I only work there until the mill starts up (a decision that will have to be worked out later, once I know what it’s like out on this site), it will still be more than worth it. So this Saturday my hubby is flying home from the job he’s been at, and he will stay with the baby while I’m on my 14 day shifts.

I have a powerful belief that the baby will lose her tiny little mind when she sees daddy come through the airport gate. 🙂

– Because of the impending start date of my camp job, I’ve been really trying to force myself to write. I’ll never find the time to write while I’m on camp (I’m working 12 hour days!), but I might be able to find a few minutes a day to edit, which is why I’m desperately trying to get to the end of my zombie novel before I leave (June 19th). And I’m so close I can taste it. My main character is currently at the ‘big reveal’ moment, which is essentially the end of the story. If I had to estimate I’d say that there might be about 5000-6000 words left to this story, so if I work really hard (and my brain starts cooperating with the ‘big reveal’ wording) then I might actually have it finished this week. ^_^

– Also because of the impending start date of my camp job, I’ve been thinking that I need to start trying to get into shape. If my duties are anything similar to what they were at the mill, I’m in rough form. And the fact is that the work I’ll be doing out there will probably be much more physically demanding than what I’m used to. With this in mind I decided yesterday that today I would start getting up early and running again, as well as trying to eat better.

I set my alarm for 6 am. The baby woke up at 5:30 am. 😐

Since I can’t use my treadmill while the baby is awake (it’s in the basement, which is also where a bunch of dangerous stuff and also the kitty litters are, so I can’t just take her down there with me), I’ve been waiting all day for the little booger to lay down and take her nap so I can get my exercise in. It is now coming up on lunch time and she appears to have no plans of the sort. I’m at least twice as tired as she is.

And as far as eating better…..I’d forgotten how hard that is. I had a bowl of grapes, a glass of juice, and a coffee for breakfast, and a little later I had a bowl of oatmeal that I hoped would tide me over until lunch. I’ve also since had 2 more glasses of juice (it’s a calorie-free concentrated thing that you mix with water) to try to keep my belly feeling full. It’s not helping. I’m freakin’ starving. And it doesn’t help that we have a whole closet just packed with the discount Halloween candy we buy every year after the holiday. 😐 I’m not cut out for diet and exercise.

– And finally, my word counts for the week. Aside from one crappy day and one day where I evidently forgot how to write, I did pretty well! An average of 1303 words per day!

Sunday – 1396
Monday – 2617
Tuesday – 1098
Wednesday – 211
Thursday – 0
Friday – 1960
Saturday – 1839

If You’d Just THINK For a Moment…

The more I hear about the changes that are coming to the Canadian EI system, the more frustrated I get. And it’s not even the changes themselves that are making me the most angry (though there’s definitely some rage there); it’s the comments I keep hearing from people who support the changes, or think the changes should be even harsher. The most common comment I’ve heard is that Atlantic Canadians (and our seasonal workers in particular) are lazy bums sponging off the system several months a year, and that we should be forced to suck it up and either get a job flipping burgers or move out West for work.

Funny how sure of themselves are these people who have stable jobs and don’t have to deal with being regularly unemployed themselves. They’re so angry about people “abusing” the system that they pay for (uh, hello, the same people “abusing” the system pay EI premiums too, you know) that they don’t stop to think for a moment about some of the comments they’re making.

A few points, if you will:

– Yes, our seasonal workers (fishermen, tourism workers, agriculturists, etc) “sponge” off the system every year. That’s because their jobs, the jobs they’ve worked all their lives and are trained for, don’t enable them to work 12 months out of the year. I’ve heard so many comments about how those people should “look for other work then, if their jobs are so unsteady”. And that is one of the most ridiculously stupid things I’ve ever heard. If all the fishermen suddenly packed up and said, “You know what? We should go find a job that’s available all year through” who the hell would catch your fish?! Like it or not, seasonal work is required work. Those seasonal workers catch your fish, harvest your crops, cut your lumber, and a host of other things that need doing. Cut them out of the equation and you create a massive deficit in freakin’ society.

– “Okay, so don’t make them find new jobs, but force them to take other jobs during the off months!” Do you really think that’s so easy? First of all, most of these seasonal workers are only trained in the job they do. In order to find a secondary job that pays them at least closed to what they make normally, they would need to be trained in something. Who is going to pay to train them? Do you remember what college costs? Because it’s gone up. A lot. The EI changes that are coming will put no money into helping retrain the unemployed. So where is that money going to come from? Believe it or not, not everyone can afford to just say, “Hey, I think I’ll go back to college so I can work two jobs a year.”

– “Okay, screw a career, just make them work at McDonald’s in the off months!” Oh, you sad, sorry little person. There are currently tens of thousands of seasonal workers in Nova Scotia. Do you honestly believe that there are tens of thousands of unskilled jobs just sitting around waiting to be filled? Particularly in Nova Scotia? Because if you do, I’ll pray for your sanity if you ever lose your job. It hasn’t been very long since I was a college student looking for part-time work to help pay my tuition, so I know what it’s like. It’s not uncommon to hand out a hundred resumes before getting one interview (and that’s in the cities, not the super-rural areas many of us live in). And I’m going to explain something to you right now: minimum wage employers like fast food joints and department stores don’t want to hire you if they know you’re going to be leaving for another job in a few months. Why would McDonald’s want to hire a fisherman and spend a bunch of money training him, knowing that he’s going to leave to go back to fishing in a few short months? Minimum wage employers don’t want to deal with that nonsense anymore than any other employer would. Turnover at those places is bad enough without hiring people that they know for sure aren’t sticking around for very long. And as previously mentioned, even if some seasonal workers do manage to pick up these types of jobs, there aren’t enough available for everyone. To think that there are is complete and utter folly. If there were that many minimum wage jobs just sitting around, students wouldn’t have such a hard time finding part-time and summer jobs.
The entire thing, in my opinion (and many other people’s opinions) smacks of trying to force as many people out west as possible. If seasonal workers (and others who claim EI regularly for other reasons) are forced to take jobs outside their pay grade (and yes, 70% of what you’re used to is significantly reduced pay when you’re fixed into things like mortgages and vehicle loans), then they’re going to start looking at greener pastures, which seems to be exactly what the feds want. The West will continue to grow and prosper, while the East steadily collapses. The more people who head out to the oil sands for better-paying work, the less money that will be spent in Nova Scotia, the higher our taxes will rise, and so on and so forth. And to all you people who support the changes, you who have steady, well-paying jobs and never have to rely on EI yourselves…you can be damn sure that as the Nova Scotia economy rapidly declines, your jobs will end up in jeopardy as well.

Will you be ready and willing to take a minimum wage job or uproot your entire life to move out West?