Categories
Canada humor

Would You Walk a Plank 80 Stories Above the Ground for Cake or Kittens?

Last week, I had the opportunity to take part in a trial of some new virtual reality software being created by a company called Hone, here in Calgary.

Hone uses virtual reality and augmented reality to help train people in how to deal with high-risk, high-stress environments. Using a combination of psychology and technology, Hone hopes to have a positive influence on how people approach stress management in the future.

It was through my work – which has nothing to do with VR – that I ended up in a boardroom at 8:25am on a Friday morning pondering what exactly I had signed up for.

Back in December, Hone came in and had ten of our staff members take part in round one of testing. One of those staff members was my boss. I was highly interested in what was happening and mentioned that I would like to be considered if they ever come back. My boss, true to her word, volunteered me and BOOM, I was in.

I was super excited. I’d never experienced virtual reality before. It looked awesome! I knew nothing about it or about VR in general or Hone or what time it was at or how long it would take or what I would need.

So I blocked off the whole day and began hoping it was a game.

It was not a game.

The session was called Applied Stress Management. This is a topic I am highly interested in. I’m apparently a super stressed individual however I don’t always realize it. The first person to point this out to me was my dentist after I cracked and/or broke several teeth though clenching in my sleep – not even kidding – …and then a TMJ specialist who took all of five minutes to diagnose me with TMJ. What a waste of an afternoon off work.

However, this was back in Jan 2018, 18 months after my mother had died and right amid the three months where we had bought a house, got a puppy that seemed allergic to sleep, I changed jobs, it was winter and life was a sleepless, -30 degree, I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing jumble.

Things being better now, I was curious to what my stress levels would be in an unknown situation.

The main thing I was hoping to get out of the session was to learn techniques to stop myself from freaking out during my biggest fear: driving.

I hate driving. I have always hated driving. When I first learned how to drive in Ireland, I got stuck on a roundabout because I refused to leave it. Another time, I created a traffic jam on the street, panicked, stalled the (manual) car too much and had to get out – in the MIDDLE OF THE TRAFFIC JAM I CAUSED – to let my mother drive.

Here in Calgary, I relearned how to drive 4 years ago, got my license and then drove 1-2 times a year after that. Usually to the airport or the mechanics and back. Or sometimes just back. Why drive there when the person I’m dropping off can do that?!

Just thinking about makes me panic. When I sit in the driver’s seat I immediately get all hot and flustered. I sweat a lot. If I have to drive somewhere, I used to have to bring a change of cardigan or shirt….Too much information? Incidentally, after 20+ years, I finally found a deodorant that works for me! No Pong (bicarb free version) – All natural, comes in a cute little pot that sometimes annoyingly difficult to open when it’s 6:30am, not an ad, I just really love it! It doesn’t help with stress but it does help my clothing. #thelittlethings

Moving on.

So, I go into this session thinking this can maybe help with my fear. Or at least help me not spend an entire day panicking about having to drive somewhere when I know I have to drive somewhere.

First up was a presentation by Alex Jackson. And let me tell you, Alex is awesome. A very calming individual. Bit like a living Ted Talk. There were graphs and things to look at and none of it was confusing. Alex’s presentation was informative, engaging and slightly terrifying when he described what we would be doing.

We would be donning our super awesome VR googles and some other techy things that monitor skin and heart rate.

Not so bad.

Then we would be getting into a virtual reality elevator which opens onto a rooftop.

So far so good.

Then we would be walking along a plank 80 stories above the ground to get a piece of cake and bring it back into the elevator.

Cool.

Cool, cool, cool.

Cool.

I should mention in addition to the virtual cake there was also real cake available baked by Alex’s sister. She felt bad that Alex was potentially going to traumatize us all by making us walk a plank to get virtual cake while there was no real cake there to sooth us.

No, I’m serious.

Suggestion for Hone: Kittens. I woulda bounced along that plank if there were kittens available to play with. #justsayin

So here I am, standing in a small room with Alex, Phil – also from Hone who I’d just met – and two other guys at computer monitors whose names I didn’t get. Alex is explaining to me how it’s going to work.

In front of me, a guy is setting up a real wooden plank on the carpet. This thing is about 2-3 inches from the ground maybe. I’m looking at it and looking at Alex thinking I can totally walk along this. My only fear was twisting an ankle in my heels cos I 100% ignored the ‘wear tennis shoes’ part of the email.

Alex has me clip a small sensor to my ear and puts little cotton and Velcro finger sensor thingys on the first two fingers on my left hand.

He then lowers the goggles on to my face and HOLY SH*T.

I was transported to a busy city street. I was opposite a park. There was a butterfly. I was fascinated by the butterfly. It seemed so real. I almost wanted to touch it.

It sounded real. I could hear people and traffic and nature.

I immediately felt hot and flustered and I hadn’t even done anything yet!

I started looking around and completely missed some of my instructions.

Dammit.

I get into the elevator behind me, press a button and wait. The elevator goes up. I can see a gap in the door that shows we are moving up but I don’t focus on it. Instead I look around the elevator. There’s a small warning sign, some buttons for other floors and no mirror. I am listening to the elevator music. It’s quite soothing and not so bad, I can do this, this is….

…the doors open.

‘Ou wind…’ I say out loud. I didn’t actually realize I’d said this aloud until Phil told me later.

It legitimately looked like I was 80 stories up. I was suddenly terrified. And I’m not scared of heights!

What am I doing? The cake. Right.

Where’s the cake? Oh…there. Right in front of me. At the end of the plank.

I walk forward a little, hit the real plank and almost trip.

Good start.

As I take a step up onto the real plank, VR me steps onto the VR plank. The calibration was just the slightest bit off so I was half on the VR plank, half on nothing on my VR screen. It was surreal.

The real plank wobbles.

Awesome.

I shuffle along the plank. Shuuuuuufffle. Slowly. Slooooowly. When I got as close as I was willing to get to the cake I waved the wand I was given. Nothing happened. I’d have to get closer.

Then I heard ‘Push the trigger button’….and stopped shuffling. I bent down, waved the wand dramatically in the cake’s general direction, grabbed the cake, shuffled backwards and back into the elevator.

Let’s remember, I am still in a carpeted boardroom in an auditorium in my work building on a plank two inches off the ground.

It felt like that scene in Ant Man where this hugely dramatic thing is happening on screen and then we pan out and it’s just a little train going around.

Alex asks if I want to try again but this time ignore the cake and jump off the plank.

Do. I. Want. To…What?

Why would I want to do that?

How would I…? No. No I do not.

No.

Of course, I said yes because I was already here and I’d gotten the cake and…ugh, why not?

Back into the elevator I go. Up to the roof I go. The music drowns out Alex’s instructions so I hear nothing until I reach the top. I look through the gap in the elevator this time. I ask what happens when I jump. Do I land? #validquestion

No. I don’t land. It all goes white and angelic music plays. I burst into laughter. I start feeling better. Alex talks me through breathing and visualising my goal: Jumping off the plank.

Why couldn’t there be kittens?

I stepped out onto the plank. It was re-calibrated this time and was in line with me.

IT. WAS. SO. REAL.

I was nervous. This was a fear that I didn’t think I needed to overcome! But alas, there I was, knowing logically where I was, that this wasn’t real, I was just stepping onto carpet not an 80 story drop.

I scrunched up into defensive mode, the clenched hands against my chest move I do when someone startles me or that time I watched IT, the new one. Still not sure about that movie. I mean, did I like it enough to watch the sequel? It’s hard to tell.

Back to the plank.

It’s one step.

Just a step. Onto carpet. Not off a building.

I ask if I have to keep my eyes open as I fall.

No.

OK. I can do this. I nervously giggle at the absurdity of me being scared by this. Yet I STILL DIDN’T MOVE.

Alex explained where he was in the room and I instinctually prepared to jump/step off towards his voice.

I am not doing it. Or am I doing it? Should I do it? I can’t be scared by this. It’s not real. It feels real. But it’s not real. I should just jump. Should I jump? I mean, what if…f*ck it.

I stepped off.

My foot hit the not-plushy-cos-it’s-a-boardroom carpet while my VR self plummeted 80 stories to the white screen and angelic music. I watched the whole time. It was freaky, exhilarating and then very funny. The angelic music. It was just such an absurd ending.

Then I respawned.

I was on the ground. I took off the googles.

Next up was a check on my stress levels on a readout.

As you can see, I was slightly freaked out the entire way through it would seem, peaking at several specific points:

  1. When I put the headset on
  2. When I was looking through the elevator crack
  3. When I exited the elevator
  4. While making decisions on what to do
  5. RIGHT before I jumped (that one was obvious)

Overall, it was a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again without question. I’m already wondering if they plan to come back for a third round of needing volunteers.

I even recommended to The Canadian One that he should try it as – even though I did get him up into a hot air balloon last summer – he is terrified of heights and this may help him.

In terms of driving, I still haven’t gotten back behind the wheel but it’s winter and snow driving is not the time to overcome that fear. It seems more like a summer fear-busting task, no?

Incidentally, during the debrief we were asked if we think anything else would motivate us more than cake.

I immediately thought of kittens however opted not to suggest that as others seems happy to walk a plank for cake.

Then the planner in me gets involved and it’s like, where would you get the kittens? You’d need litter boxes. And food. And someone could be allergic. And would you rent them or adopt kittens for this task? And how many kittens? And would the owners of the boardroom you are renting allow animals? And what if someone got scratched? Would it be an OH&S problem? There’d be reports and paperwork. It would be a whole thing.

It wouldn’t work.

Or would it?

What do you guys think?

Would you walk a plank 80 stories up for cake or kittens?

Categories
Canada comedy funny humor running

The Road To 5K: Day 2

The road to 5k copy-2

Previously on The Road To 5K: The Prelude and Day 1.

Yesterday morning, I breathlessly completed Week 1: Workout 2 on the C25K app and, though I had figured it would be easier than Workout 1, I was wrong. It was not.

It was much harder.

My body was still sore from the first workout two days before and as soon as I hit the pavement, I knew it was going to be rough.

I got through the 5 minute warmup walk, passed the playground and realized I was incorrect in my last post, it was not a hippo the baby was on, it was a purple dinosaur.

During Jog 1, I was almost immediately out of breath and my throat started to burn. The jogging minute felt like an eternity and I almost quit right there and then. I reached a stop sign and almost considered heeding its warning but kept going.

I used Walk 1 to slow down and catch my breath before the next Jog Beep kicked in.

Jog 2 was awful. My chest burned, my mouth was filling with hot saliva, I was overheating already. I was not going to make it.

During Jogs 3 and 4 I was starting to get into a little bit of a stride. I made it to my turning point, Moosh’s House, and was on the way back to my house.

I had crossed the halfway point. Things were going well. Things were looking up!

Then I started to feel like I might throw up. I started jogging slow enough you could almost call it a fast, bouncy walk. My brother had told me to try to jog slow like if I was going any slow I could consider it a fast walk, but not quite. I was trying to aim for that speed. As I didn’t want to actually  physically stop, I alternated between fast and slow as I bounced along the sidewalk.

I began to realize eating a cereal bar right before I left the house was not a good idea and began to panic about what would happen if I really did throw up.

A while back, I got sent home from work ill. I was sweating, pale (more pale than usual for an Irish girl) and visibly hot. My manager called a cab (the company paid for it) and sent me home. Midway though the journey, I asked the cabbie to pull over as I was going to vomit. He stopped in the middle of the road in a suburban neighbourhood, I jumped out and threw up several times on an apartment building lawn. A shirtless man watched me from his balcony as a row of cars began to pile up behind my cab. It was a very classy moment for me.

It was noonish, I was wearing an office outfit and nice shoes (I was very concerned about getting puke on my shoes) and there I was, throwing up several times on a pristine lawn.

I got back into the cab, the cabbie thanked me for telling him advance that I was ill (apparently most people don’t) and off we went to my apartment.

Good times.

I imagined throwing up in my own neighbourhood to be like that, except it would be a house lawn not an apartment building, which is somehow so much worse!

And as I jogged past the now-completed trampoline I started taking deep breaths which didn’t help and I started coughing.

I managed to fumble through the rest of the workout, ending at my house at the exact moment the workout ended. The first time I had to go around the block on more time as I was a little faster.

The pain afterwards was less intense, however, and today I feel absolutely fine. I headed to Winners to pick up a sports bra and a belt to keep my phone in so I don’t have to carry it during my next workout and am overall more positive about this whole thing.

I’m not longer looking at this as a larger goal of ‘Running 5K’, but more of a smaller, achievable goal of ‘Running Jogs 1-4 without thinking I’m dying’.

Once I do that, I’ll up it to ‘Running Jogs 1-6 without death’.

Then it’s just a quick hop, skip and a job to the 5k!

Right…?

Follow along with me as I go from binge-watching Scandal with gummie bears and Ruffles to running 5K in the Calgary Marathon in the space of 7 weeks supporting Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS). Feel free to sponsor me here or just laugh along at my running journey.

Previously:

The Road To 5K: The Prelude

The Road To 5K: Day 1 

 

Categories
comedy entertainment funny humor

Day 1 – After Wisdom Teeth Removal: Awaking to a Snowstorm

After yesterday’s preparations, the day had finally come. The day that’s been on my calendar for over a month. The day in which my wisdom teeth finally get evicted from my mouth to go live…somewhere else, actually I have no idea where they keep pulled out teeth.

All three of us, me, The Canadian One and The New Roomie arrived at the clinic promptly at 7:15 in the pouring rain. After a coffee run, for them, and some paperwork signing and a payment made, for me, I dutifully swallowed 2 tiny blue pills along with a tiny cup of water and was told I was in ‘my room’ I would be in for the surgery. I asked about why I couldn’t wear nail polish – it interferes with the heart monitor in my finger – and also if I would get to watch TV during the surgery. I then asked if I could go back out to hang out with the boys in the waiting room and was told I could go ‘socialize’ but had to come back when I felt like I wanted to sleep. The lovely Dr. Lee and I agreed we would take out all three remaining wisdom teeth, something I still disagreed with but the thought of having to return to get yet another one out outweighed my desire to keep the tooth.

I hung out with the boys watching the Global news report on the terrible traffic in the area until I started staring randomly at things, at which point The Canadian One panicked and brought me back into my room to lie down. I was covered with a fluffy blanket and next thing I know, my dentist is hovering above me, injecting me with a needle. After what seemed like ten minutes of me listening to them and watching them put things in my mouth and scold me for moving my head…and then holding my head steady, we were all done and I was free to go. It was told I only had two taken out and was allowed to keep the fourth (in my mouth…in case that’s not clear…not like in a Ziploc baggie) and that also something had happened my crown…it was explained to me…twice…and then my dentist decided he would just call me tomorrow as I clearly wasn’t getting it.

The New Roomie has waited in the waiting room for me and rushed to my side to help me with my coat and to re-sign some paperwork after it ended in a two-tooth extraction and not actually a three-tooth extraction. I have no idea how we got outside. Or into a taxi. Or where the taxi came from. The New Roomie did put my seatbelt on me, I remember that bit.

I mentioned I’d been in there a short time, it felt like ten minutes only to be told it’d been three hours, up from the original hour allotted to me, as there were complications with numbing me and getting the teeth out. Three hours?! THREE?! I still can’t believe that.

So now I’m home and it’s several hours later. I’ve changed the gauze, I took the painkillers using a measuring spoon to spoon water into my mouth, I napped, I woke in a puddle of blood and freaked out a little, I changed the gauze to a tea bag, I took my homemade barely bags outta the freezer and held them to my face, I watched six episodes of The Mindy Show and ate some Carrot Soup.

Overall, I’m doing pretty well. This was me about 45 minutes after surgery, proving my inability to take a selfie while still under sedation:

photo 1 (2)

Things I was not warned about:

The blood. The masses and masses of blood. It was like my mouth had a period, I’m not even kidding you.

The sleep. I was told I would sleep after, that I would sleep until the next day, that I would not feel much pain as I ‘would be asleep’. I am wide awake.

The pain. I was told the worst part was the needles. It was not. Now it the worst part. Right now. In real time, as I’m writing this. The afterwards pain. It sucks.

The sore throat. Probably because they literally injected me in my throat. I would imagine that’s it.

The snow.

THE. SNOW.

When I awoke from my nap, there was a snowstorm outside. A. SNOWSTORM. It’s September. It’s barely even fall. And there’s snow?! Honestly, at this point I don’t know which is more upsetting, that yesterday I wore a summer dress, sunglasses, flip flops, no cardigan and went to an outdoor BBQ and that today there’s a snowstorm outside and it’s minus who-cares, it’s not hot OR the pain in my mouth.

LOOK AT IT:

photo 2 (2)

LOOK:

photo 3 (2)

Argh!

For more information on my Wisdom Teeth Journey, check out:

Categories
Canada comedy entertainment humor

It’s here…The Snow…It’s finally here…

IMG_9295

So I wake up this morning to this text from a friend from work:

‘Did you look outside yet??’

I had not, although given that she had texted me I had assumed that my iPhone app was not incorrect and it had indeed snowed last night. Having spent some of my still-in-bed-yet-awake morning listening to the cat meowing loudly at the window for several minutes in sporadic bursts for about an hour, I had come to the conclusion that he’d spotted a fly / bird / fluff / a person walking half a mile away and was wanting freedom to give chase.

I was wrong.

I had also thought when my friend text me that it was just going to be a little snow. A small smattering of flakes here and there causing a fluffy white yet still specks of green visible on the ground.

I was wrong.

IMG_9307

My response to the text was immediate:

‘OMFG!’

I’d been obsessing about the snow coming for  a few weeks. In the form of ‘Winter is Coming‘ terror, it’s been almost three weeks since I busted out my hat and gloves to start wearing daily. When people were wearing flip-flops on the train, I was next to them in my fluffy Costco coat, blue hat and gloves. One day my supervisor at work told me it’d been snowing near where he lives, but I didn’t believe him. The Canadian One came home from band practice one afternoon to proclaim it was snowing, but I could see no evidence of such in the outside world.

I returned to waiting. Checking the weather each day at work. No snow. Hot weather. I began to wonder about the Chinooks, those mystical winds everyone told me about before I moved to Calgary.

‘Oh, you’re moving to Calgary? You’ll be fine, they have Chinooks.’ – said EVERY. CANADIAN. I. MET. IN. KOREA.

Was I in a big Chinook? Was this a Chinook?

Me: “How hot is it during Chinooks?”

Girl who sits next to me: “People wear t-shirts.”

Me: “Would I wear a t-shirt?”

Girl: “You’d probably take off your coat.”

People were wearing t-shirts and shorts on Thursday, I thought. Maybe it was exaggerated. Maybe there was no snow in October.

And then it happened.

The snow came.

Does anyone remember EXACTLY seven months ago (plus a day) when we moved here and it snowed and it was The Most Snow I’d Ever Seen?! This is almost the same amount of snow.

I posted a picture of this morning’s snow on Facebook and immediately got:

‘Oh no Jenny, your greatest fear realised.’ – My Irish Friend in Korea (the one with the Leprechaun baby!)

BUT alas, The Canadian One returned from Wal-Mart and announced that a) we needed to get our driver’s licenses and b) it’s not that cold outside and we should go outside and play. Quickly followed by him asking several times if I was sure I wanted to go outside and yes, I do need to wear gloves.

Before we ventured into the outside world
Before we ventured into the outside world, Louie’s obsession with paper alive and well in the background

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We made a snowman!
We made a snowman!
SNOW!
SNOW!

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We introduce Louie to the snow...he hates it!
We introduce Louie to the snow…he hates it!

Also this week, I survived my first six months at work (celebrating the six-month-mark with breaking a federal law), discovered Louie likes pom-poms and pipe cleaners, Nenshi is still mayor, I learned why one should never ever, not ever, not even once in their lifetime make caramel apples in the slow cooker and I decided no Nanowrimo for me this year. Well, maybe….

Any advice for an Irish girl’s first winter in Canada? Someone’s already suggested vodka…It’s top of the list of survival tactics so far!