Things To See: Alberta Legislature

I tried figuring out something to actually do with this blog instead of simply rambling on, as it is supposed to be a travel blog, after all. There’s just one problem with this. I’m not going to be doing any major traveling until August when my Japan trip happens. I spent a solid couple of hours thinking about this, trying to figure out how I was going to stay on topic while still doing the “travel” thing. Then it hit me:
I’ll travel around my city, highlighting various aspects of my city for those of you who don’t have the privilege of living here.  What better way to get my “travel legs” and get off those training wheels as a relatively new blogger.  It’ll give me something to do on my “down days” and an objective for the blog.

Anyways, enough of that rambling that I’m trying o get away from. Without further ado, I bring you: Alberta’s Legislature. It’s located in the heart of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. and built in a “classic revival style”  with “Greek, Roman and Egyptian elements” in the design.

Oh! Before I forget: Alberta’s Legislature is free to view with guided tours up until 4pm in the winter and 5 pm in the summer.

Alberta Legislature Grounds

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The Alberta Legislature was built between 1907 and 1913 in the Classical Revival style, popular in Canada at the time for legislature buildings. Strongly influenced by similar American government buildings, other Canadian examples from the time include the Manitoba Legislative Building and the Saskatchewan Legislature. Utilizing classic Greek, Roman, and Egyptian elements that suggest power, permanence and tradition, it was built on concrete piles and constructed around a steel skeleton.” – http://www.edmontonsarchitecturalheritage.ca/structures/alberta-legislature/

The grounds of the Alberta legislature are quite extensive and used for social and city functions on a regular basis. I visited during the winter (obviously), and as such, not much was going on. We might be Canadian, but even we like the heat. I’ll try and revisit the Legislature (“The Leg” as it’s affectionately referred to by Edmontonians) during the summer months and hopefully compare and contrast the differences during the two seasons. Out front of “The Leg” covered in snow are actual wading pools which draw in crowds during hot summer days.

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In the back of the Legislature is a rolling expanse of public use space. This space (which extends far on either side of this picture is painted in a brilliant green during the warmer months of the year. This area can be utilized for celebrations and the like, used for everything from Pokemon Go players to those that utilize marijuana on the ever-so-infamous “420” or April 20th.

Alberta Legislature Rotunda

The video above is the complete unedited footage of the interior of the Alberta Legislature rotunda. It’s the only place I was allowed to go, so I tried to gather as much media footage (video and pictures) as I could while I was there. I tried to document everything I could. Unfortunately, I neglected to grab photos of the rotunda as a whole, only bits and pieces of it, so I figured I’d share it.
In the video, the stairs that go up, head to the legislature itself. At the time I was in, they were still in session.

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Looking straight up, you see this magnificent sight. I love the artistic license taken with this room, and the lighting in it is absolutely amazing for photos and videos.

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In the direct center of the rotunda is this decorative pool. It’s lit up from underneath and my camera really didn’t do it justice. I’ll have to remember to play around with it a bit more in order to learn some more ins and outs. This pool is located directly under the roof I showed in the last picture.

SO that’s it. It’s a quick look at the legislature in Edmonton, Alberta. I actually had fun photographing this place. I’ve got a couple places in mind for next time, but I’d like to invite you all to let me know if you have a place that you’d like me to cover. Unfortunately, I’m only one person and my brain can only think of so much.

Until next time, I’ll see you on trails.

 

Travel: The Fire That Burns Within My Soul

 

Who I am as well as prospective travel plans and itineraries in the future.

Traveling is more than just a way to get around. For some people, it’s a way of life. It’s a constant state of being. Some people are completely fine with staying in one spot for most of their lives and very rarely taking a gander outside of their own front door, and some people have a burning need to see all that they can see. I fall into the latter.

My close relatives will tell you that I was and continue to always be moving. I’m always off to new places. Seeing new things intrigues me. My family will also tell you that my sense of curiousity has always been a rather intense one (sometimes bordering on obsessive. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s hard to sate the curiousity within me that tends to boil up and take over every part of my being. \

For as long as I have been able to remember, I have been traveling in one form or another.  Whether it was traveling down the street on a walk during warm spring weather, or to the other end of the province I grew up in to visit family, I’ve always been out and about, curious about what’s around me. Recently I’ve added Chicago, New York, and every Canadian province except Newfoundland to that list. At the time of posting this blog post, I am planning to ass Japan to that list. This will be my first intercontinental trip. I’m really excited.

The urge to travel within me is insatiable, as previously mentioned. It’s an all-consuming fire that envelops every part of who I am. It is simply my reason for being. If I go too long without going somewhere new or traveling in some form, I start to manifest actual physical symptoms such as itching or ants in my pants. I can’t really explain why or how, but it is what it is. I only know of one way to deal with this problem. Get out there and explore.

On top of all this, there’s also the issue of me not conforming to societal gender standards. I stand out like a sore thumb and most people notice this. I have sex characteristics of someone born with plumbing on the inside, but my skeleton was nurtured by testosterone for the first part of my life. This brings a whole new dynamic to my prospective travels in the future. There are some countries, that because of the life path I’ve walked for myself, that I will never be allowed in. because of these choices, I will never feel comfortable in. There are some countries that I will never actually be safe in. This is a daunting prospect for me to think about. This is a fairly limiting prospect for someone who wants to see every corner of the world.

It simply comes down to the thought that in some countries, I am literally not socially acceptable, and I most likely never will be. This can be a daunting thought for anyone, let alone someone who is just starting out, but there’s still lots of the world out there to see.

I don’t think I’m going to let this stop me. The fire for travel burns too brightly. I need to see all of the things.

Japan Mini-Series 4: Things I Found Helpful

This is not a paid advertisement for any company.

Transit in Japan.

Transit in Japan is extremely efficient. It puts most of the rest of the world to shame in their service and punctuality. It’s regarded by many as some of the best transit systems to exist. If you’re visiting Japan, you’ll most likely be utilizing the transit system at some point.
Japan’s transit can be difficult to navigate for people who aren’t used to it or haven’t used it before. Luckily, in my 6+ months of researching for my trip, I’ve come across some tips, tricks, tools, and websites that should help take some of the pressure off of you as you navigate the world of Japanese transit.

One of the things that everyone seems to recommend for travel to Japan if you’re staying for any length of time is a Japan Rail Pass. Japan Rai is one of the main train companies in Japan, and they have a rather extensive network of rain lines that stretch from one end of Japan to the other, along with some in city trains as well. Their prices range from USD $273 (CAD $350.13) to USD $767 (CAD $983.73). Canadian prices are accurate as of the day this post was made.

Something else you might want to consider purchasing is a Passmo or Suica card. For the purposes of my trip, I’ve actually chosen to get a Suica card when the time comes, as it comes recommended by a friend. The Passmo and Suica cards help cover transit that your JR pass won’t cover, and there are certain lines that Japan Rail doesn’t cover. These cards can also be used to purchase things at certain convenience stores and even some vending machines. It’s kind of cool, actually. I wish we had this kind of integrated system where I live.

Back to the JR website for just a moment. They also offer wifi devices for rent and their prices start at USD $60 (CAD $76.99) for 5 days.

JR Wifi Options

This picture was taken from https://www.jrpass.com/mobile_wifi

The only thing to be careful of is that the page states that you have access to “a daily limit of 3GB per day of high speed access, after which the internet will slow down considerably but remains usable.”
I might do a post in the future on options for wifi while traveling in Japan, but I thought that this was worth mentioning, as it’s impossible to get by these days without some sort of wifi options.

When it comes to travel in Japan, the train is nice, but there are cheaper options for travel if you’re looking to travel on a budget, such as buses. If you are so inclined, you could even fly from city to city.I opted not to, but it IS still an option for you.

I hoped this information helped a little bit. It took me a while to drag this out of the depths of the internet, and I’m hoping that now, you won’t have to.

See you on the trails.

Product Review: Amazon Basics Travel Backpack

I think I’ve picked out the backpack I want to travel with to Japan. It took me a while to decide on the design and format of the backpack that I wanted to go with for my first intercontinental trip. As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m trying to take the minimalist approach for this trip. The goal: to be able to walk off the plane when it arrives without having to wait at baggage claim and wait for my luggage.

The product I invested in can be found here. This is the AmazonBasics Carry-On Travel Backpack. I got the black one.

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The overall dimensions of the travel backpack are 5.5 by 13 to 14 by 21.5 inches (LxWxH) (As described on the Amazon website. On the front of the backpack is a small storage pouch for quick access to things you may need in a hurry like a travel wallet or keys and phone. This [pocket is approximately 3/4 the total height of the backpack itself, so there is more than enough room in this pocket for whatever you may need to use it for.

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Opening the large front pocket of the backpack, we see secondary quick-access storage capability with organization functionality. This is useful for carrying things like electronics organizers, passports, wallets, travel/tourist guides, pens, pencils, etc. The bottom of the inside comes with a mesh-lined pocket so you can quickly identify everything you are currently keeping in that pocket. You also have a quick access pocket on the front side of the backpack as well, which is kind of cool.

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Looking at the inside of the backpack pleased me. When you open up the main compartment, it opens like a miniature suitcase, complete with compression straps and a mesh pocket on the front side again. As you can see, it’s big enough to fit my full-sized tripod for my DSLR which only goes to reinforce how much I like the ergonomic and spacious design of this pack.

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Without this pocket, I would not have even considered this pack, as a lot of my work while abroad will be done via laptop. It’s a dedicated laptop sleeve which happens to be partly padded. Sorry for the crappy picture quality. It was hard to hold it open and take the picture at the same time.

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The backpack straps fold into the interior of the backpack to make room for other attachments.

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This makes the bag a little more versatile for those who prefer to carry their bags on their shoulders. You’re not stuck with the traditional backpack style.

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This backpack expands to make use of any unused space you may have on the inside with these convenient expansion zippers. In the same respect, it will collapse if you are in need of a little more room in other pockets.

Summary:
I love the convertibility of the Amazon Basics backpack. It will go nicely with the RFID passport wallet and mesh packing cubes I have already. It seems that when they designed this backpack, the designers definitely had functionality at the top of their mind. They even took into consideration the issue of unused space in the interior.

The backpack appears sleek and stylish, if a little long for my liking, but for the extra space it provides and the organizational pockets, I think it’s a solid piece of equipment for travel.

The one thing I was unable to test at this point is durability. I won’t be able to give a review on that until after I come back from a couple of trips, so that section will be left out of this review, with the exception of mentioning that the material it is made of seems like it might not stand up to overly rough use.

Rating:
Because of the versatility of this item, I’m rating it 4 passport stamps out of 5

 

The Mature Student Outlook

The Mature Student Outlook

A checklist for mature Students.

I recently went back to school in part as an effort to work on my writing skills, to sharpen and focus them. The other part of this was that I got tired of surfing from job to job at a minimum wage rate and just barely managing to survive (sometimes not actually able to). I was tired of relying on my fiancee to help bail me out from bills and debts. In January of 2016, I made a conscious decision to get up and head up to the local university to pursue upgrading. By fall of 2016, I was officially enrolled as a student. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

I can remember trying to tell everyone what I had accomplished, and while they were happy for me, they didn’t seem as thrilled as I was. I don’t know, maybe it was because I was overly excited after a decade of not knowing what to do with myself. Looking back, I think I was neither ready, nor did I understand just how much of my life this path would consume. I wasn’t mentally prepared for it, which is why I’m putting out this list.

Being a mature student isn’t a reference to being an older person by any means. Being a mature student is a reference to anyone over the age of 21. It’s a reference to maturity level and it’s a reference to a student who’s entered the schooling system as an adult.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

1) Get to know your learning needs.

Everyone has different ways of learning. While most people are content to sit in a lecture and listen, some individuals may need help assimilating the information in various ways. This was a hard lesson for me, and my marks suffered as a result. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for the help you need if you find you’re having issues. From my own personal experience, a lot of professors and instructors are more than willing to help advise you on where to go and what kind of resources your school has available

2) You WILL make friends.

This is pretty much unavoidable. From things like group projects to standing in line for things, chances are you’ll meet someone that you’ll hit it off with. When I first started attending, I planned pretty much to stick to myself. Fast forward to my second year, and I’m now surrounded by a group of people who have become some of the closest people to me, and I met most of them on campus.

3) Don’t leave things until the last minute.

It is amazing how many students I come across that have let things go until the last moment possible. I’ve been known to do this from time to time, but it usually bites me in the butt every time. Leaving things until the last moment usually leads to sub-par work. Your professor won’t like reading it, you’ll be disappointed because you know it’s not the best you could have done, and this can negatively affect your GPA.

4) Your GPA need to come first.

If experience has taught me anything, it’s that your GPA determines everything while in school. It determines when you graduate, what extra curricular activities you can take part in, traveling abroad, and a few other things. Try to look for GPA boosting courses, put your all into your work and if all else fails, drop the course. At my school, the add/drop date is 2 weeks during regular semester. During this time, you can drop a course, you will get the money back and it will not appear on your transcript. The last day that you can drop a course without getting a penalty for is the last day of class for that semester, but you will earn a W for the course which is, of course, a “Withdraw”.

5) Talk with your boss.

If you’re returning to school as a mature student, chances are you’ll be returning from the workforce. I did after over 10 years. In order to make this work, I actually ended up switching jobs for a better school/work/home life balance. Chances are your boss will understand your wants and your needs, or at least be willing to work with you to help you obtain this goal. Your boss will hopefully work with you to adjust your work schedule in order to facilitate this massive and chaotic change in your life. If your employer is unwilling to work with you, you may need to decide what is more important to you: work or school. Deciding on the latter may mean you need to find new employment opportunities.

6) Adopt an “Open Mind” policy

Experience can be great, especially for a mature student. You have experiences and knowledge to pull from that those individuals fresh out of high school won’t have had the chance to gain yet. The flip side to this is that all that knowledge and experience you have might limit the way you see and experience things. That extra experience can have the unforeseen effect of creating a kind of “closed mind” within you that you may not have been expecting.

7) Know when you should take a day off.

Yes, you’re in school and lessons are important. So is your homework. It can become very overwhelming at the drop of a hat. Self care is important during college and university. You should know when and how to take care of yourself. Everyone has their own thing to make this work. For me, it’s Netflix and glass etching. For others, it’s D&D or going for a nice long walk. Maybe road trips are your thing. When it comes to studying and learning, if you take care of your mind and body, you’ll have a much better time and might even find it fun.

8) Take advantage of that student discount.

Students are poor. This is a known thing. They generally don’t have a lot of money. Students scrimp and save for every little thing they have. Your campus probably has free merchandise giveaways through contests or information booths throughout the year. Sometimes these prizes and rewards are food. Businesses around your city may offer student discounts, so it’s worth checking into. I’ve seen student discounts as high as 25 percent with some businesses. From what I’ve seen, a good portion of restaurants (sit down ones, not fast food) will usually offer 10%-15% off the bill if you show valid student ID, especially if they are geographically close to the campus.

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

Remember: You’ve got this. You’re smart, you’re excited and you’ve got your future ahead of you. You’re making (hopefully) a positive change in your life for the better and the world is your oyster. When all is said and done, you’ll be left standing. You’ll find out you’re a much better person for it.

You go, tiger.