Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dear Holland, Please Send Windmills.

I’m starting to think we were just due for a flooding, of, you know… everywhere. France is flooding, Prague is flooding, the prairie towns of Western Canada are flooding, Holland was flooding but they've got that under control… and my hometown is under about 3 meters of rain and river water. Just incase any of you were wondering, if I happen to see a big boat full of animals Imma flip shit.

Kayaking down the street in High River
Why every Canadian should learn to canoe at a young age. See? It's a life skill.
Ok that’s not true, mostly I’m laughing because at this point - on the other side of the world from my friends and family - what am I actually able to do? I’ve tried patrolling the media sites like a coonhound on the hunt, but that’s counterproductive because you only see the worst of the flooding, over and over and over again. I’ve also tried the social media approach, only that’s also been swamped (… no pun intended) with images of what my friends are doing on the ground. Mostly at this point it seems to be pumping water out of their basements. If they still have basements. Or if all they have left is a basement. I’m cheering for all of you, and I’m sorry that this sucks so much.

Langevin Bridge. Normally there is 5-6 meters of clearance under  this bridge.
Downtown Calgary at sunset, taken by a friend of mine June 21st. When he finds his 'before' image I'll add that for comparison.
Instead of the standard pictures of destroyed homes, roofs being torn apart as they're washed into bridge struts, or our flooded Saddledome, I've tried to collect just the funny (pretty?) images here. If you're looking for destruction, go visit Google.

Catching His Wife - Photo from during the evacuation of downtown
Ingenius use of construction equipment. Front-end loaders for the win! Please note the dog included in the load.
On the bright side, we’ve discovered that we have pretty much the best Mayor ever, and that only in Canada would you end up with too many volunteers and too much donated food for emergency shelters. Citizens have been instructed to stay in their homes unless they’re already part of an aid effort, and keep water use to a minimum. For all of you at home who are twiddling your thumbs because you can’t get to the floodplain to shovel muck, your work place or school is shut down and you’ve already had your 5 minute shower, here’s a blog entry to (hopefully) brighten your cloudy day.

The most badass shot you'll ever see of Canadian politicians. Prime Minister Harper, Mayor Nenshi and  Permier Redford preparing to assess the damage via helicopter.
Citizens noticed that our Mayor had been working around the clock (literally), so they started a twitter train encouraging him to get at least a little bit of rest. Best part? It worked.
First off: Eraser shavings and pregnancy.
There are some pretty amazing conversations had in language classrooms. When your medium of communication is something that you’re learning, it’s not unusual to be reduced to charades and childlike sound effects. I will strongly argue that this is one of the most entertaining and best parts of class. Take last week, for example. We were discussing causal sentences and how they are structured. I’d been less than 100% successful, and as such had been using my eraser… lots. We came to a lull in the lesson so I asked the instructor if there was a word in French for eraser shavings. She thought for a minute, and said that no, there wasn’t really a word for them. They’re just eraser pieces.
Olivia, a very lively English lady at the end of the table added her 2 cents as well. (Please imagine this next sentence in an adorably posh British accent) “Well they’re not really shavings in the first place. Shavings are what you get from like… sharpening a pencil. You don’t shave your rubber!”

I laughed. I laughed so hard that initially I couldn’t get the words out to explain why I was laughing because there wasn’t another North American in the room. In Canada, a ‘rubber’ is slang for condom. (Sometimes it's used to refer to rubber boots, too) Only… 'rubber' is more like the slang from the last generation, that’s a term my parents use. Clearly in British english though, ‘rubber’ is their word for eraser. It just came out of left field and I hadn’t been ready for the image that popped into my head, which was of a fully inflated condom being shaved on something resembling a cheese grater. Because that’s a good idea, shaving a condom before you use it. Really augments the effectiveness of the thing.
 Once I’d managed to explain this to the class (in french, of course) they thought it was hilarious. The instructor promptly followed that up by informing us that in french, you don’t actually get pregnant. We paused… regarding her suspiciously. Isn’t that kinda what France is known for? Gourmet food culture, romance… generally there are babies involved in the latter stages of the second one, and they have to come from somewhere. I'm fairly certain the Brits were getting ready for stork jokes.
“In French, pregnancy is like love. You don’t ‘get’ love, you fall in love. You don’t ‘get’ pregnant, you fall into pregnancy.” That’s… actually a very sweet notion. She smiled and laughed, then swung us straight back into bedlam with: “Unless you shave your rubber, then it’s more like an accident. Oops! I fell in love. Oops! I fell into pregnancy!”

Oh yeah, we’re a very mature group of adults. 

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