Back in Newfoundland

Hello everyone!  A lot has happened since I last wrote on my blog and I am finally settled into a new chapter of my life for the next couple of years, which will allow me to write more regularly and spend a little bit of time updating my website.

For a quick summary, since I last posted in June, I drove across Canada with the Eastbound Peace Bus (I wrote a little reflection on that experience here) and more recently stepped down from the role of co-chair.  I got to see all my closest high school and university friends on my journey from Victoria to Halifax, and then from Halifax to Ottawa, where I spent some time with family before making the big move to St. John’s, Newfoundland, where I will be for at least the next two years!

It’s been a whirlwind month so far, starting a new job as a postdoc in the Cognitive Aging and Auditory Neuroscience Lab (CAANLab), moving into a new place, reconnecting with old friends and catching up with faculty who may now be potential new colleagues!  I’m wrapping up some PhD work while already hitting the ground running with a new study and analysis of EEG data – it’s about time I get to explore the neuroscience side of music science and I’m super excited to run a number of studies.  My work here will essentially extend our knowledge of music perception to older listeners.  Mostly due to convenience, the vast majority of music perception literature is about younger adults, with very little known about music perception in older adults (though Andrea Halpern has done the most work in this).

I had been waiting for my Psychomusicology article to be published before posting this update to have some cool news to share, only to find out yesterday that it had actually been published in MARCH and I had no idea because I was at sea/in China… I checked their website recently, but only as far as the July and September issues since I figured it wasn’t out yet.  At least now I’m proud to say that I have published my first peer-reviewed article in a music science journal and you can check it out here!  I had an exciting moment a few weeks ago when I saw on Google Scholar that I had also been cited!  Now that the ball is rolling, I’ve got a few more publications in the works and look forward to all the exciting research coming in the next few years.

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Selfie day!

Selfie day!

Facebook told me this morning that it is Selfie Day today – and though I am not usually one for selfies, I decided that today was a good day to share for a few reasons:

  • This morning I sent in the majority of my corrections to my supervisor for feedback; the bulk of the work is done, all that is left is some analysis on data that is still being generated (thank you to my lovely friends who took my mind off it yesterday with some time at the Board Game cafe, I was majorly stressing out!)
  • I visited Majestic Beach with a colleague and friend from work at the garden centre, which was a great day all around – I’m so glad I got to see another part of this beautiful island!
  • Tomorrow the rest of the Peace Bus leadership team will join me in Victoria and we being final preparations for the Eastbound Peace Bus journey that begins on Sunday!

It feels like another turning point, the end of something and the beginning of something else.  My thesis is slowly moving behind me, and I’m still reflecting and learning from my Clipper experience (I’m sure I’ll continue to for some time still – also note I still proudly wear our lovely orange team fleece -REPRESENT!- and I’m thinking of them as they prepare to race to Derry-Londonderry).  At the same time, I’m preparing to launch into a new kind of challenging adventure as part of a leadership team taking a group of Canadian youth to explore this vast country of ours, with all its beauty and its flaws.  Check out our Facebook Page to follow the adventure!

With my last post for several weeks still, I’d like to close with a huge thank you to everyone I’ve met in Victoria, who have made the last few months an incredible time to explore, recharge, and come home!  I’m also going to jump on the Sapiens band wagon and highly recommend you read it!!  Sapiens (and its sequel Homo Deus) by Yuval Noah Harari are ‘a brief history of humankind’ and ‘of the future’ respectively, and are absolutely challenging, mind-boggling and an important read right now as change is increasingly fast-paced.  Also, if you’re into music science, check out Finn Upham’s new podcast called So Strangely, featuring recent research in music science – they’re a great listen!

That’s it for now, I’m off to pack to the sound of music science, and tomorrow the Peace Bus adventure begins!

Swiftsure 2018

Swiftsure 2018

What a weekend indeed to have been racing in the 75th edition of the Swiftsure races!  It was a great way to end a rather stressful week, what with dropping my phone in the marina, working full time, prepping for the race and continuing Peace Bus prep, I barely had a minute to myself.  But, from Friday evening getting to meet most of the crew down in the inner harbour, things took a turn for the better!

I had registered my interest in the race on a crew bank on the Swiftsure site, where you can put your name down if you’re looking for a boat to race on.  I was picked up by Andre a few weeks previous and was looking forward to racing on this winning boat!  Magnum has won or placed highly in several Swiftsures so I definitely felt some pressure to perform well.  Still, it was going to be a good challenge, a change from my Clipper racing experience, where my team is not in the high-performing half of the fleet.  Unfortunately, this year would be different for Magnum.  The weather was not nice to this smaller boat and we came in second to last.  However, as with my Clipper experience, we focused on safety and actually had a great time – at least, I certainly did!  It was SO NICE to work on a boat where I can lift a sail by myself – I found myself actually wanting to do sail changes!  I saw a symmetrical spinnaker for the first time and how to rig it with a pole.  I saw reefs put in on the fly, instead of pre-rigged in the mast and sail.  That was perhaps a bit stressful, though I only watched, but we reefed before being too overpowered so it was all good.  I’d also never sailed on a boat where weight was so important, and where crew sit with their legs hanging outside the boat – or need to clip on all the time or even wear a life jacket as soon as lines are slipped (definitely throughout all the race though, given the conditions).  I was definitely thankful for my Clipper foulies, as it was a rather cold, wet and windy affair throughout.  It took several hours, even after a shower, to warm up again to feeling like I could generate my own body heat!

Probably the best story that came out of this race was our encounter with the Coast Guard.  Unfortunately, our location transponder wasn’t working for the first part of the race and so we were thought to be missing – we were also having issues with the radio so didn’t get any communications that way.  We only found out about this problem with a Cormorant started circling us… cool moment as it was, we did feel bad about using that resource – but, mistakes happen and things malfunction and in the end, we were always safe, which is what matters.

The crew was great, with various levels of experience, allowing us to try our hand at pretty much everything.  I spent some time on the foredeck, some time in the ‘pit’ with a vastly reduced array of winches and lines (beauty!), some time helming, trimming, and some time on standby on the all-important vang, in case of broaching – which, incidentally, did not happen!  We finished the race around 2:20am, a record for Magnum.  Most boats finished all races in record time due to the high winds over the weekend!  After a few hours’ rest, we did a little clean up (no deep clean woohoo!) and moved the boat back to its home with a few well-deserved beers to wrap up the weekend.  It was so good to be on the water again, and I’m thankful to Andre for bringing me on board with this wonderful crew!

On a completely different note, I’m about mid-way through reading a fascinating book on the geo-politics of energy called Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet by Michael T. Klare.  It’s definitely making me realize how much I don’t know about what goes into maintaining our energy-rich lifestyles and what a mind-bogglingly gargantuan industry energy is.  Oil, gas, coal, minerals… all things we absolutely depend on but feel very much behind the scenes, despite this importance.  I look forward to reading more!

Reflections

Reflections

Last time I wrote on this website, I was in Airlie Beach, Australia about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.  Just four months later, it feels like another life.  It’s amazing how fast life went back to normal and I’ve found myself feeling fully integrated into Victoria, British Columbia, with a job with great colleagues, a place to live, and friends to hang out with.  And it all formed together within the first week of my arriving here!  I have to admit, I already knew quite a few people in Victoria through CISV and met loads more very quickly – which is a big reason why I chose to spend time here of all places.  And I am so glad I did.  Aside from being simply breathtaking (see photo of the view from Mt Douglas), I’ve felt incredibly welcome and completely at home – despite being a brand new arrival, yesterday marking 6 weeks on this gorgeous island.

The journey here wasn’t easy and I’m still digesting it, but I think I’ve come out the other side a more open-minded and resilient person.  According to some, I’ve changed a lot, but perhaps I’ll only notice it in time.  There is so much that went on packed into those six weeks of the Race that I won’t even attempt to describe it all here.  I shared as much as I could through blogs at sea and now that I’m on land again, I am writing about the whole adventure, trying to document it as much as possible.  Who knows, maybe that will be public in some form someday.  I will however say that it’s the people that make this race what it is.  I’m not the first to say it, and I won’t be the last because it’s absolutely the truth of it all.  Sailing is great fun but unless you’re racing at a really competitive level (which, let’s face it, we’re not), it’s not that difficult in itself.  Get the right sails at the right time and point the boat in the right direction.  If it can be done with a team of amateur sailors in all sorts of conditions, it’s not that hard.  It’s the individuals on board that are both the most positive part of the experience, and the most challenging.  The bond that we form as a team is strong – though it’s not perfect and there are disagreements and smaller groups within, when the sea tries to throw you out, we come together.  Every blog that tells the story of a kitemare, or a difficult storm, will say this exactly.  No matter the kind of leader you happen to have on your boat.  The hardest part of the race is being in close quarters with people you may not necessarily get along with.  It forces you to let go of the small things, not take things personally, and look at the bigger picture.  And it’s not about how you can change the other person – it’s about how you can change yourself.  I don’t think I quite got that last part while on the race, but hopefully I can keep that lesson in mind going forward in life.

I’ve made friendships for life, I know that.  Even though we won’t see each other often, I have no doubt that I will see many of my teammates again.  A quick trip to Seattle for the stopover between Legs 6 & 7 was so much fun and provided some of the closure that I didn’t expect to get just then.  I’m still closely following the race, with the race viewer and blog reading as part of my morning routine.  I also plan to turn my CISV Canada Peace Bus gang into HotelPlanner.com fans as we cross Canada this summer!  Along with working on my thesis corrections, preparing for this next epic trip has been my main preoccupation when not working, sleeping and trying to function like a normal person (groceries, laundry, cooking, etc..).  I’ve had a chance now to attend Western National Training, which was a fantastic weekend and got me reconnected to CISV Canada, have been in touch with almost all of my delegates and their families, and our leadership team is complete!  The closer it gets, the more excited I am – though, not going to lie, there is definitely some stress as the logistics involved are rather daunting… but to focus on the positive, I am beyond happy to get the chance to drive across my country, a mari usque ad mare (unfortunately, we won’t be doing the full “sea to sea to sea”).

Time to go to sea…

Time to go to sea…

In less than 24h, I will be leaving land for about 3-4 weeks to sail to China.  I still can’t believe this is real life, or that I got myself into this!  This whole thing started almost two years ago, when I was hanging out with a new friend (who I got to catch up with in NZ, btw!) and decided to actually look into what all these ads around the London tube were all about.  And now here I am, sat at Abell Point Marina in Airlie Beach, about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me this far, financially and emotionally, with friendship and advice.  Thanks to all the skippers who have trained me and all the crew who I’ve met in training along the way.  I’m so lucky to have met so many incredible people over the past few years of training and months of travelling and also to have seen so many great friends again in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.  In a world getting smaller by the day, for those of us privileged enough to travel, there’s rarely a final “goodbye”, but rather many “see you later”s.  I’m so lucky to have finally gotten to visit this gorgeous corner of the world, so far from home yet so close culturally.  I’ve seen incredible landscapes, cool flora and fauna, and met so many great people!  I think I’m ready for this crazy sailing race now… I did say I think

As much as I’ve loved travelling, I’m also looking forward to going home, and being in my own country again.  I am super excited to say that I have been offered a position as leader on the CISV Canada’s Eastbound Peace Bus, spending five weeks driving across Canada with youth from across the country as we explore our Canada’s diversity, strengths and issues and give back to our communities on our path.  So, as soon as I get back home, there will be lots to do with thesis corrections, Peace Bus and working and I am very much looking forward to it!

But first, to China!  If you’d like to follow along, you can follow the race on the Race Viewer and read our team’s blogs, by both skipper and crew.  See you on the other side!

Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach

Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach

It’s hard to believe I’m here in Airlie Beach and that in a few days’ time, I’ll be at sea, taking on the challenge of a lifetime.. I’ve seen the boats and they are impressive, all lined up in the marina side by side – it makes me really excited about getting started!  A lot of the anxiety I had about the race has diminished since arriving in Airlie, though there are of course still some nerves.  Today we have a boat induction, first of the whirlwind of events that will be the next few days.  The goal is to get all my essential shopping and research done this morning, so that I can focus on being a helpful team member for the rest of our time here.

We came to Airlie Beach from Mackay, which, on a side note, was much bigger than we thought, a place of rest for us as we’d both taken the overnight bus to get there, and needed a bit of time off after all the adventuring we’d just done and the adventuring to come in Airlie.  We were very lucky when we arrived around 8:30am to have a room already free for us, so we napped until the afternoon and walked around Mackay a little bit before watching a movie and having another early night.  Well, as early as was possible with a very loud live band playing very close by.. Still, a good sleep.  It was much needed, much appreciated rest.

We came to Mackay from Agnes Water, a small town by Seventeen Seventy, which we were highly encouraged to visit.  Though we only had one full day there, we took full advantage by going to a kangaroo sanctuary to feed and pet young kangaroos!!  Couldn’t believe it was real life.  Some interesting things about kangaroos: they have really long claws on their feet, the females can pause and restart pregnancies as it suits them, and they hardly ever get sick because of their grass-only diet, which is alkaline when most viruses live in acidic environments.  They’re also completely peaceful and like to play, which is the absolute cutest!  We also saw dolphins later in the evening with the sunset off a Seventeen Seventy beach.  Real life.  Unbelievable.

Finally, we had come to Agnes Water from Hervey Bay, which we visited as it was one of the places from which you could get to Fraser Island, another famous location highly recommended to us.  Seeing as tours were quite expensive, we decided to do it on our own, booking a camp site at Central Station, planning to walk the 5km from the ferry to the site on the first day and back on morning of our third and last day.  Well, things did not exactly go to plan.  First, it turns out there was no 4pm ferry to the location we wanted, as they hadn’t been running all day (because of tides they said?) and we were two minutes to departure for the ferry to Kingfisher Bay, the last of the day.  So, we were very lucky to get to the Island in the first place, but it meant a 16km walk instead of 5km, and we would only arrive around 5pm, meaning we were racing against the clock to reach our campsite before running out of daylight.  We did not.  We also found out on the ferry, that Fraser Island is the largest SAND island in the world.  We were NOT prepared for this, and is the main reason why getting around took us so long – it’s much harder to walk in sand than it is on dirt, even when it is reasonably compacted like it was on hiking trails.. we were also quite nervous about dingoes, and venomous snakes and spiders, though thank goodness we did not encounter any of those at all while we were on the island.

So, we didn’t reach our campsite the first evening and so instead wild camped on the side of the sand roads for vehicles.  We set up in the last bits of daylight, had dinner and went almost straight to bed, only to wake up with the sun the next morning around 5am.  It was easier to just get going, especially as we were not at a proper campsite, and we were packed up and walking before 7am.  We arrived at Central Station a couple of hours later, only to be very confused by its layout, not being able to find the showers, or bins that were marked on the map.  In the early afternoon, we were finally told that this was in fact not the campsite, and that we had to walk 400m down the road to find the campground!  So we got up and moved down the road, to find a properly fenced in area, with toilets and showers, and nice flat sites, each with a picnic table and space to park a car if you had one.  Much nicer, and it all made so much more sense.

I did say that we didn’t see any venomous snakes, but in the evening, the family on the site next to us started getting very excited about a 2m python that was between our two sites.. they started picking it up by its tail, and trying to move it and just generally playing around with it.. we thought we’d stay firmly in our tent, as we did not know at this point that it was not venomous (it can still bite, but it won’t kill you..), and thought they were completely bonkers.  Who pulls on the tail of a 2m python?!  Australians…  They made fun of us but we were very okay with that, we stayed safely out of reach.

On our last morning, our 8km walk that I had originally expected to take about 1h30 to 2h took us nearly 4h, which made me very glad that we had departed in the morning instead of 2h before our afternoon ferry departure time!  A combination of walking in sand, being tired from not excellent sleeping, and a navigation mistake contributed.  Although, if it weren’t for that navigation mistake, we might not have run into the couple who let us ride on their trailer for the remaining 3km we had left to the ferry terminal, so it’s all good.  Once back at the hostel, we repacked our things and went off for the bus to Agnes Water.  Needless to say, the shower that evening was one of the most appreciated so far!

Gold Coast to Noosa Heads

On the road again!  I honestly don’t know where to start right now cause I can’t remember what I last wrote.  Right.  Mullumbimby.  Since then, I’ve been to Surfer’s Paradise in Gold Coast, Brisbane and Noosa Heads.  It feels like Mullum was so long ago but I guess it’s only been six days.  Okay so almost a week, that’s pretty long in travel time.  Surfer’s Paradise was okay until my last day there which was AWESOME!  It’s just another beach town, but with high rises and lots of shopping and bars and clubs.  It would have been a great place to recharge if it weren’t so hot and the fan so creaky that I didn’t sleep the first night, and little the second.  But, Julia joined me on Friday evening and on Saturday afternoon we went to AquaSplash and it was THE MOST FUN (as you can see in the photo).  To explain, it’s basically an obstacle course, but inflatable and on water.  It is very ridiculous and you just can’t help but laugh pretty much non-stop as you uncontrollably flail and fall over everywhere.  So, SO MUCH FUN.  Also, such a good way to work out without noticing it because we are STILL slightly sore three days later.  Oh, and also I’m pretty sure I saw Liverpool 2018 and Sanya Serenity Coast off the coast of Main Beach, Southport as they passed by.  They were just smudges on the horizon, but they were around there according to the Race Viewer so I decided it was more fun to say it was them.  Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to see HotP anywhere along the coast on their journey, they’re already nearly arrived and I’m still only coming up to Fraser Island.

Anyway, made it to Brisbane that night and stayed with a friend of Julia’s.  It was so lovely to be in a home instead of a hostel for a change.  We crashed early and have now every night since.  And, personally, I’m still tired!  It’s getting better though, one more night of good sleep and we’ll be ready to camp on Fraser Island.  Got sidetracked.  Brisbane.  We only spent a few hours in Brisbane in the end, but we needed most of our full day there to plan out our time between then and Airlie, so it’s okay.  From those couple of hours, we loved it, albeit unprepared for the windiness and associated chilliness.  It was 37oC earlier, we did not think to bring pants or a sweater.. I was particularly surprised by how much Brisbane reminded me of London.  Their wheel, by a building that looks like South Bank Centre, with a lit up bridge, and further down a bridge that is reminiscent of the Millenium Bridge… the tall glass buildings looked like Canary Wharf, though the placement relative to the South Bank was different from London.. there was also a large road along the water, similar to along Embankment.  Amazing.  Threw me off a little, but I didn’t mind really.

We’ve now just left Noosa Heads, where we spent one night.  Yesterday, we kept things low key, just walking around town a little bit and playing cards with a free glass of wine (for those having checked in that day!) in the evening.  It’s a really cute town and today we got to see the main beach and along the coastal walk, which was lovely.  This is going to sound horrible, but I’m getting used to these beach landscapes and I just don’t find them as impressive anymore..  it’s nice, but they all look the same to me.  Beach, with rocks usually at some point, and greenery not too far off.  All these towns up the coast will just be other beaches, so I’m looking forward to spending more than one night in Seventeen Seventy, and about a week in Airlie before heading out to sea.

Speaking of which, two weeks from today, I will already be at sea and it has definitely not sunk in.  I can’t even imagine what that will be like or feel like, despite trying.  It feels so soon yet so far away.  Perhaps it will sink in more when I reach Airlie?  Only time will tell…