Another Fantastic Visit to Canada

Apologies for a quite voluminous blog post, but I've had an extremely full past few days--flying up to Canada to receive my Iron Ring (Canadian Engineering Ring), seeing many K-W friends, and enjoying Dan's hospitality. I have split it up by day for greater digestability.

Travelling home tomorrow... assuming the weather is cooperative.

Thursday (i.e., the Evil Goddamn Holiday)

I traveled up on frequent flyer miles, so my only reasonable option was getting up godawful early (4 AM) to catch a 6 AM flight. I owe JMD another dinner out for the ride to Logan. The flight it self went smoothly; better yet, R. came to pick me up at the airport! We grabbed lunch at my favorite bakery, and caught up over wood-fired oven pizza, coffee, and baked goods.

On the way to the University, we stopped by the gourmet food store; I couldn't resist the tiny marzipan pig I found on the shelf.

R. tossed some chocolate in her basket... but when we got to the register, I insisted on paying for both of us:

"I'm sorry, R., but can't let a woman buy herself chocolates on Valentine's Day."

Yes, my silly chivalrous gesture.

We went to the University, stopped by the old research test hut, and checked out R.'s research (and I provided some advice).

That evening, however, was a much anticipated dinner at Dan & Daniel's place--I was very fortunate that they despise this holiday as much as I do, and were glad to throw a dinner party for me and a few more friends. Dan put together a wonderful menu:

Problems with Men
A Valentine's Day dinner by dan

14 February 2008

Men have:
cheesy senses of humour
goat cheese
bad breath
roast garlic

They also have:
jealous natures
green salad

They inevitably turn out to be:
Jamaican jerked chicken
red beans and rice

And they're:
always getting into fights
blood orange crêpes Suzette

Crêpes Suzette fire step below:

There's something delightful about the fact that having Valentine's Day dinner with two gay couples was one of the nicest celebrations I have ever had of the Evil Holiday. The hospitality and humor pushed away any of the usual subtext of February 14th--i.e., "We're celebrating couples--and if you're single, you suck!" It's great to have wonderful friends.

Friday (Iron Ring Ceremony)

Previously on my blog, I have posted my explanation of what the Iron Ring is about, and why I wanted to receive one. Friday was the ceremony--we are instructed there that we should not reveal the details to the public, but as a general reaction, I found the ceremony to be serious and a stark contrast to the party atmosphere of the day's Iron Ring Stag celebrations.

If you'll permit a serious aside, I was quite touched by the reading of the Rudyard Kipling poem "The Sons of Martha"--a work long associated with engineers and this ceremony. The title relates a biblical story of Jesus visiting the home of the sisters Mary and Martha; the latter was rebuked for concentrating on preparations and hospitality, instead of the more spiritual Mary, who was sitting at Jesus' feet--see the top part of the linked web page above. Therefore, the engineers could be considered the "Sons of Martha"--worrying about how things will actually work and function, but therefore being subservient to the "Sons of Mary":

The sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited
that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the
careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she
was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without
end, reprieve, or rest.
It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and
cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that
the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care
to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by
land and main.

It was a bit odd not knowing anyone at the ceremony--the other participants are graduating engineering classmates who have survived four years of undergrad education together. But I celebrated all right afterwards--several work/grad school colleagues took me out to dinner that evening. So behold: the Geekiest Right Hand Ever!

Incidentally, a Google search for ["iron ring" "brass rat"] yields one of my blog posts as the second entry (one of the other hits opines the following about the Brass Rat: "This must be the ugliest class and overstated ring in existence. The Canadian engineer's iron ring, by comparison is a marvel of good taste (even though technically it's a pinky ring).") Good to know that I have doubled the aesthetic challenges due to my ring selection.

I have several dorky experiments to undertake now that I'm wearing two rings--for one, finding the galvanic voltage between the two metals (gold and 300 series stainless) when I immerse both rings in seawater or lemon juice. I have already determined that the ring is austenitic (not ferritic) stainless steel--a fridge magnet won't stick to it. Basically, it means that the ring is made out of the good stuff (300 series) not the crappier stuff (400 series: "Ferritic stainless steels are highly corrosion-resistant, but less durable than austenitic grades.")


Saturday was a decompression day--St. Jacobs Farmers' Market with Dan, followed by dim sum in K-W (mmmm... dim sum... best meal ever).

We walked to and from dim sum, which had me questioning my judgement to come up to Canada in February:

I wondered whether I had just forgotten how much snow falls during the winter here, but I was informed that this winter was exceptionally bad... definitely worse than the three I personally experienced here.

That evening, my advisor took me out to dinner to celebrate, which was very nice.


Well, my flight is scheduled for 10:30 AM tomorrow morning. However, check out the big green blob on the radar map below. That storm is headed northeast, with a freezing rain warning for tomorrow morning.

I'm hoping this won't be a day of being stranded in airports, refugee-camp style with hundreds of others. Perhaps, if I luck out, they'll just cancel my first leg or something. If nothing else, I have two DVDs in my bag.

Excuse my morbid self-amusement, but to cover my bases--you might use the presence of two rings to identify my body, depending on the violence of the crash.


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