by Nancy Halverson, Feature Writer
As the whirlwind that is my life settles a little, I’ll take a little time to tell you about some of the things I’ve been noticing in my travels.
I’ve just returned from Canada—my family were so incredibly happy to share in my mother’s joy at finding love at 69. She and her new husband make a great couple and it’s wonderful to see a permanent smile on her face.
The ENORMITY of it all
We also spent a few days in Waterloo after the wedding (in Peterborough County)—so comfortable to be in the place we think of as ‘home’. I was once again amazed at the spaciousness of everything from homes to roadways—even the parks seem so huge! And we finally figured out that the big yellow thing in the sky was actually the sun!
One thing that we were disturbed by however was the shear number of huge cars that are on the road – who needs all these militarized vehicles like the Hummers and the enormous SUV’s? How much gas do they take to move along the road? Coming from the narrow roads and tiny parking spaces in Europe and especially in England, it’s really a shock to see these tanks and ‘battlestars’ moving around in so much space. It’s probably a perception thing…
(I have actually seen a Hummer on the street here in England though – it dwarfed everything but the double-decker buses and must take up three British parking spaces! And there are more and more Chrysler Voyagers and Jeeps being added to the Range Rovers etc, so even when gas prices are two and a half times what they are in Waterloo, some people are still convinced that they need the battlestars. I think it’s an oil company plot.)
I understand, no really
Other than the blue skies and lovely fall weather we had while we were ‘home’, it was a real pleasure to understand almost everything everyone said. I guess we’re tuned to certain accents, but even people who speak to me in any other accents (German, Vietnamese, French Canadian) in Canada I can grasp their meaning without asking for a repetition. Maybe I resist the English (or Yorkshire) accents, but I still have difficulty. I’ll admit that if someone says something to me here and I don’t understand it, I simply nod and smile—which I didn’t need to do once while I was in Canada! I never knew how much of a relief that would be… and I think it’s that type of thing that makes ‘home’ so comfortable—wherever ‘home’ may be for anyone.
On being “tourists”
As our kids were fairly young when we moved to England (7 and 5) they never remembered going to Niagara Falls. The Falls are one of the quintessential Canadian experiences for most people from this side of the pond. So, we took a day to schlep the girls to see Niagara – and it was fabulous. We went on the Maid of the Mist (which I’ve never done!) and we did the tunnels under the falls. Both experiences are very wet, but not too much different from a rainy day here in Sheffield—except that the mist tended to blow from the direction of the falls, rather than swirl around like the rain vortex that usually happens here!
It’s incredible how much we all enjoyed our day as tourists—I’m usually a tourist snob—I don’t go in for the ‘been there, done that’ stuff, nor do Ryan or I like the commercial side of tourism. We spend the money on getting as close to the ‘real thing’ as possible, and leave all the periphery to others. So going on the Maid of the Mist was a natural, although we’d never taken the time before. The girls loved it all—the grandeur, and immense power of the water going over the cliff lived up to their expectations. I marveled at how few times we’ve actually been there—I felt like saying ‘we have to go more often’. It’s really an incredible site that anyone who grows up in that part of the world becomes entirely too immune to—the same as the Romans get bored with the archeological digs and ancient monuments.
Going round and round...
I am impressed that some roundabouts have been added to the road system in Waterloo—they’re not as scary as you think they are! Actually, most roundabouts keep traffic moving very well—you just have to make sure that you look to your left before going into one. It’s a difficult thing to communicate to new ‘users’ though—the signs were quite funny. You need to keep in mind though that you can be in a roundabout at the same time as other cars, since all of them are moving in the same direction. Some friends here at ZOOtech have shown me the scariest roundabout ever—it’s a good reason for me to avoid Swindon I figure—maybe it’s a population control thing, it seems so patently dangerous! But, if more simple roundabouts were used in North America, traffic would probably move smoothly. I got very tired of sitting in a lineup to get through intersections—I never thought it would be so boring!
Oh yeah, the STC
The year for our STC group here has begun—we’re trying to put together four one-day events this year. It’s a very interesting (read busy) year shaping up for me. I’m not sure that I’ll survive really, but we’ll give it a shot.
Our first one-day event is set for Nov 19 in Coventry. We’re bringing over an American XML and DITA guru—Alan Houser. Since I’m the VP, and charged with co-ordinating the event, I’m pretty much on the hot seat to get this conference booked and profitable. Next, I’ve got something to put together for Sheffield for the spring. If you’ve got any advice for me—all you successful program managers, I’d really appreciate it!
About Nancy Halverson
Nancy grew up in Toronto, but has lived in Ottawa, Melbourne, Waterloo, and now Sheffield. She has travelled through the South Pacific, Australia and Indonesia, which is where she met her husband, Ryan Wilson (another Canadian), along the way.
A career switch introduced her to the STC in 1997. Her writing experience has included several contract positions and a position at Inscriber for several years. She has two daughters and has been living in England for over two years.
In this issue:
Contents | President's Message | Head to Head | Council Meeting Minutes | Freelance 101 | In the Numbers | View from the Other Side | Membership Update | General Meeting Announcements | Resume Service