Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Monday with Rachael

Monday was beautiful.  I met up with Rachael for Lunch at Meat and Bread.  Delicious sandwiches!  This was followed by a long walk through Gastown and shopping. Later I met up with Elanor again and we walked over to Forth Ave.  We met Aaron for supper at Fable.  Delicious again!  What a great visit to a great city!

Vancouver at its best.


Rachael looks excited.

More coffee and cupcakes at Revolver.

Walking through Gastown.

At False Creek

More from Sunday

At the Market.

Aaron with his rosemary plant.

Near Wildlife Island in False Creek.

Looking out through the trees in Lynn Valley

Action shots of Elanor hopping across the logs.

Sunday in Lynn Headwaters

Sunday we headed along the seawall to Granville Island for brunch at Edible Canada.  Overall the food was quite good although the group consensus was that it was a bit heavy and salty.  The walk was amazing, though!  We had sun and cherry blossoms.
On the seawall.
False Creek with cool clouds and light.


Sharing with Shoo; French toast and eggs benny.

Walking back home through the cherry blossoms
The afternoon plan was a hike to Norvan Falls in Lynn Headwaters Provincial Park.
Old Growth Stump.

The trail was a bit muddy.

Norvan Falls.

We made it!


Suspension bridge at the falls.

Saturday in Vancouver

We started off the day with some coffee at Revolver!  Followed by lunch at the Farmer's Market.  Then a walk down Main Street and Skype chat with Liz.  Dinner was sushi!

coffee is brewed individually in these glass jugs.

I enjoyed the world map on the wall, constructed out of nails.  Gold ones for coffee growing countries.

A happy Aaron after our coffee and cake.
At the Farmer's Market about to try a crepe full of quince, brie and greeens. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Some of you may have heard that I am moving to Bangladesh in August this year.  This will be for 3 years.  The good news is that there are lots of children in Bangladesh and a lot of them are probably sick, so I shouldn't have trouble finding work.

Even better is that I have now found some excellent contacts and am starting to talk with some physicians who are associated with World Child Cancer.  They run a project in Bangladesh, treating children with cancer and providing palliative care!  This is perfect for me!  I have emailed with them a few times and will hopefully join some aspect of the project once I arrive in Bangladesh.  

This is their website if you are interested and this is a recent video which they have produced.  

The move to Bangladesh is starting to look much more interesting and tangible for me now!

Interesting Ideas.

I am going to post some links to articles which I have been reading lately and find to be quite interesting.

The first is an interview with a Palliative Care physician from Montreal.  He is really the father of palliative care in Canada.


The second is from the New Yorker and deals with the issue of rising costs in the health care system and some innovative ways to contain the costs.  The piece talks about health care "hot spotting", which is the idea of controlling costs by looking at the patients who end up costing the system the most.  In the article, the author gives the example that 1% of the patients in a particular city accounted for 1/3 of the total health care costs to the system!  This is astounding.  The article is dealing with the American health care system, but I think has some very good ideas which would also apply in the Canadian context.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Another week, and slightly less snow

I have to say that not much of anything has happened in the past week.  Unless making major progress on upcoming presentations and research projects counts.  I have come to the conclusion, that there is no reason to ever come to Edmonton unless you know someone who lives here and you like them a lot and they have a intense fear over ever leaving this city.  There are a thousand places in which you could meet this friend all of which would be better than coming here to visit them.

As an outsider, I find it fascinating to discover the myths which locals will invent to explain why the negative aspects of their city aren't actually that bad. To further explain my theory, I must first describe in the detail the weather in Edmonton:

It is terrible; freezing cold and extremely snowy for 4-5 months continuously each winter, followed by a pathetic spring.  "Spring" consists of days where the weather is barely above the freezing mark, and there are gale force winds and dirty puddles of melting snow (really lakes, given the amount of snow there is to melt).  Since the city of Edmonton uses sand to provide traction on ice in the winter, as the ice melts, the city is left covered in a layer of dirt.  The unpleasantness of this is further compounded by winds which blow the leftover sand directly into the eyes of any hapless tourists who were foolish enough to come here!  The visitor is further insulted by fleetingly brief moments of blue sky when she may start to believe that spring is coming, but which are quickly replaced by swirling snow flurries, ice-cold sleet or rain and another 5 cm of snow.  

Going back to my original thought, the myth which Edmontonians have developed, is that although their weather is comparable to that of the Arctic, they have beautiful sun.  Well, I have news for them, sun doesn't count unless it is accompanied by warmth.  And it is also not that sunny here, if in doubt, see Southern California for details. 

Well, that is all I have to say for now.  I am so glad that I am going to Vancouver for a couple days next weekend.  

This is such a typically Canadian post; all about the weather.  In most countries they don't spend nearly so much time talking about the weather, mostly because it the same every day: warm and sunny.  Bring on the Bangladesh.

Muffins that Judy was making one morning when I came downstairs.  Delicious!

There is a significant reduction in snow, but still way too much is still there.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Week One

I have been in Edmonton for a week now.  I have been working at the Stollery Children's Hospital.  The work is interesting and I have had lots of interesting discussions about palliative care and ethical issues with Dawn.

The city of Edmonton is another issue, it's very flat and bland.  Everything is very spread out.  I haven't yet had a chance to explore the city and I'm busy working on my research project.  I am hoping to visit a few of the highlight of the city over the next few weekends.

The weather is still hopeless.  We had another snowfall yesterday.  I am told that the weather will improve quickly once it does improve (whenever that may be).

Large atrium in the middle of the hospital, childrens' wards are on the 4th floor (where you can see the hanging decorations)

Cooking dinner with Judy. Pork tenderloin.

Judy creating a salad.

Our dinner!

Entrance to the hospital, walk through the rainbow!

Sunday, April 7, 2013


We flew home to Ottawa on Friday and arrived around 5:30pm.  Saturday at 2pm, I flew to Edmonton (via Winnipeg).  I'm now settled into with the Bennett family who have kindly offered to host me while I am here for 4 weeks.  Judy Bennett is the sister of some friends of my parents from when we lived in Waterloo, so I met Judy for the first time at the airport yesterday!  She generously offered to host me when I was desperately trying to find a place to stay in Edmonton last month.

While in Edmonton I am going to be working at Stollery Children's Hospital with Dr. Dawn Davies in Pediatric Palliative Care.  

I don't have much to say about Edmonton at this time, other than that there is at least 2 feet of snow on the ground!  I thought the weather in London and Ottawa was bad!
View of the Bennett's backyard in Edmonton!
View from the LRT of the North Saskatchewan River which bisects the city of Edmonton.  Still definitely winter here...

Another view from the train of the river.


More delicious pastries from around the corner for breakfast and a picnic of soft baguette and cheese at the Tulleries.  A morning at the Louvre separated the two meals. The recently opened Islamic Art collection was our first stop at the Louvre.  We also checked out arts of the America’s and Pacific, avoiding the crowds around the Mona Lisa. 
Another delicious dinner!

The afternoon involved picnic at the Tulleries.  Another delicious dinner at home consisted of bread, cheese, wine, pate and salad all from the local market.  We spent the evening doing a classic French activity, going to the cinema.  We saw the Quartet at the theatre at La Bastille.  Afterwards we wondered through the Ma…., to the Centre Pompidou, across the bridge to Notre Dame before heading home.  Tomorrow morning we head home.  


We grabbed a late breakfast consisting of croissant, pain au chocolat, and chausson au pommes with delicious coffee at the apartment.  The chaussson au pomme was perfect, filled with smooth apple sauce of just the right sweetness wrapped in flakey pastry perfection.  I had been dreaming about this for the past 7 years, since our last visit to the city!  Amazing that this pastry is available at every corner!   Baguette is also crisped to perfection and so fresh, we are consuming excessive quantities.  You know what they say, the French will have bread with their bread!  I know why.  We headed out to explore some open air markets in the area, filled with more deliciousness. There were dried fruit and nuts, olives, fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, chaucuterie, and cheese.  We chose some of each to have a fresh dinner tonight.
At Musee Rodin

Outdoor statues are great!

We headed out to visit the Musee Rodin, a fabulous little gem of a museum beside the Invalides.  The Museum contains a garden full of Rodin’s statues including the Thinker.  More espresso was procured at the Garden Café and while visiting.  After the museum we headed home to have an early dinner before heading to the National Opera at La Bastille.  The opera started at 6pm as it was Sigfriend, the third part of Wagner’s Ring.  The opera consisted of 3 Acts, each lasting 80 minutes and separated by intermissions.  The first intermission was 45 minutes long, presumably to allow guests to grab some dinner.  We explored the enormous Opera House, with panoramic views of the city skyline. 
Early dinner at home before the Opera marathon

Opera critique is not my specialty, so I will leave that to the critics. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed the music, but was unimpressed by the modernist set.  Apparently the critics felt similarly as the set designer had been booed with the premier of each part of the The Ring this season in Paris. The Ring weaves a story of epic Norse mythology with gods, dragons, a powerful ring, and epic struggle. The set was not up to the mythic proportions of the plot and the music.  After 4 hours of opera, we walked back to our apartment.
On the steps of the Opera House, at La Bastille.

Chateau Versailles

We got up early and caught the train to Chateau Versaille.  We were hoping to avoid the crowds by being early, but the simple error of only purchasing tickets for the gardens, not the combined ticket for palace and gardens online before arriving, led to endless frustrations and choice words against the French lack of interest in customer service.  After being informed that there was absolutely no way to refund tickets purchased online, we gave up and just bought the palace tickets. 

The palace is impressive, very impressive.  It’s extremely ornate, and apparently took half of France’s annual GDP when it was being built.  Unfortunately the extreme excesses of the French royals, the palace was stormed and Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were dragged into Paris and eventually guillotined.  Eventually the palaces became open to the public.  We were fortunate that Tuesday happened to be a day when the “musical gardens” were going on.  There was classical music being played throughout the gardens and at the fountain there was music coordinated with the fountain display.  Finally finding a bit of sun and warmth at the site of the musical fountain, we napped on the grass. This was possibly the only time I was warm while outside on the entire trip.

Entrance Gates, which have recently been refurbished.

Courtyard at the palace.

Typically French.

Chapel, extremely impressive. 
Hall of Mirrors

Louis XVI's Bedroom.  I liked the feather poofs on top of the canopy.
The musical fountain display

Relaxing in the sun while enjoying the musical fountain display.  Finally it's sunny and slightly warmer.

One of many fancy fountains.

Another impressive fountain

The Simone de Beauvoir bridge which has recently been built, spanning the Seine.  We walked around here after Versailles.
We headed back into Paris to meet up with Diala for dinner.  Diala studied in Lebanon with Dan.  She’s originally from Syria, and currently is at the very end of medical school in Paris.  She recommended a classic French Bistro in the centre of the city.  We stayed for hours talking about Syria, the Arab spring, the decline in civility, and much more.