The BC Storm and Winter Driving Preparedness

Many of the weather prognosticators are now saying that we should prepare for another long, cold and (shudder) snowy winter in the Metro Vancouver region. Ugh. Get ready for hashtag #BC Storm to start trending as we get a dusting of snow.

BC Storm
If we are in fact in for a snowy winter, and you are planning on continuing to drive through the snowy season, there are a few practical things you should do to prepare for driving in the winter weather.

  1. First thing, slow down when you are driving. It doesn’t matter if you have a four-wheel driving Marmaduke-sized SUV and you grew up back east where you always got snow. Slow down.
  2. Next, get snow tires for your vehicle. Don’t kid yourself, all season tires are not good in the snow. Get snow tires.
  3. Another consideration if you are driving in snowy conditions, always be prepared whenever you go out in your car. That means don’t go drop the kids off at school wearing your fuzzy slippers and pyjamas under your ratty old housecoat. Wear footwear that you can wear in the snow just in case you get stuck and have to get out of your Marmaduke-SUV. And wear a coat over top of your pyjamas.
  4. You also want to keep some cold weather supplies in your car. For example, a warm blanket and a couple pair of warm socks is useful in case you get stuck somewhere wand have to wait in your car for any length of time. The socks can be used to replace wet socks on your feet or as mitts to keep your hands warm. In the winter I always wear a toque or as our American neighbors say, a wooden knitted cap. If you don’t, make sure there is one in your car – just in case.
  5. As well as warm clothing you should make sure you have some “emergency” rations with you in the car. When I was a kid I remember my parents having “truck cookies” in the car or truck. If you get stuck somewhere they will keep a hungry tummy at least a little bit at bay. Another food item to consider keeping in your car are hard candies.
  6. Equally important as food items, keep a couple candles and a lighter in your car glovebox. A burning candle can offer a bit of light and warmth.
  7. There are also a couple of tools you should consider keeping in the trunk of your car. Most importantly, keep a short handle shovel in your car. You never know when you will need to dig your or a friend’s car out of a snowpack.
  8. Another must have item to keep in your car or truck for winter driving is a bag or two of sand or kitty litter. The sand adds a bit of weight to keep your car stable on the road and can be broken open and used to give your tires some traction on a slippery surface.
  9. The final “must have” item to keep with you if you are traveling ANY distance, make sure you always take a bottle or two of water with you.

That’s it. My list of considerations you should make before doing any more winter driving. But please, most importantly SLOW DOWN when road conditions deteriorate. And watch the hashtag #BC Storm for a laugh.

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Another Vitamix Win

Another Vitamix soup win. I got home from work, steamed up a half bag of frozen veggies and then poured them and the half cup or so of boiling water into the Vitamix container. I added a half cube of bouillon, a teaspoon of corn starch and then – going way off script, I added a cup of Kefir milk to the container. 

I cranked it up to full throttle and let it rip for two minutes or so. 

Then I poured it into my bowl, added six or eight sliced up cherry tomatoes, a big pinch of Asiago cheese and dinner was served. 

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The Leaf Experiences Part 2

As I write this blog post I am sitting in the parking lot of the Burnaby Central Secondary school in the borrowed Nissan Leaf while it is charging.

I have to admit, I’ve been a little negligent and perhaps a more than a little impatient with charging the car.

For example, early yesterday morning I was at a charging station in Port Moody where I charged the car for about an hour. That hour added about 40 km of range to the car batteries. In hindsight, I should’ve charged for 2 hours knowing that I was going to be doing quite a bit of driving during the day. Oops.

Later in the day I realized I needed more charge so I returned to Rocky Point. The charging station was in use and there was another Leaf waiting to use the charger once it was available.

So I headed over to the Port Moody Rec Centre where the PlugShare app told me there is another charger. It too was in use.

Plan C – head over to Ikea on Lougheed Hwy. Both chargers in use. Fortunately this time the owner of the Leaf being charged was in his car. So I asked him to plug my car in once he was done. He obliged.

I’m not the kind of person who can stay in Ikea for more than an hour so again, I only added about 40 km of range.

And, I’ve discovered that going up really steep hills like the ones coming out of Port Moody really suck the juice out of the batteries thereby significantly lowering the range of the car.

Later in the day yesterday I went back down to Port Moody to see about getting some more charge. Again, both stations were in use!

I returned home thinking that I’d get an early start in the morning to add some juice to the batteries. Again both stations were in use!

I figured go big or, well, don’t go anywhere and I headed over to Burnaby Central.

My gamble paid off. Both charging stations were available and I’m now charging. But really, I should leave the car charging for 2-3 hours so what to do, other than write a blog post?

So my thoughts on the EV – if cities are committed to supporting the transition to EVs, there really needs to be an increase in the commitment to adding charging stations.

When building a charging station, don’t put in one. Make it for two vehicles. Add charging stations at all sorts of public buildings – libraries, rec centres, sports fields and schools. Make the stations accessible 24/7 and yes, make users pay for the electricity they take.

Bottom line, driving an EV has really forced me stop and think about how much juice the car has on the tank before I hit the road. In many ways it is like doing long distance riding on a motorcycle. You need to know where your next fuel stop is before hitting the road.

But, it has been a very cool feeling driving by gas stations and no caring how much the price of gas has gone up that day!

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An Extended Nissan Leaf Test Drive

My bestie who happens to own a Nissan Leaf has gone to New York City for a few days. Unfortunately for him and his lovely wife, they had to be at the Vancouver airport at the ungodly hour of 0600. It is difficult at the best of times to get a ride to YVR but for 0600? Impossible. 


Unless you say to a guy who is very curious about electric vehicles, “If you give me a ride to the airport you can borrow my Leaf for the week!” So I set my alarm clock for the ungodly hour and got up in time to drive my bestie and his blushing bride from Burnaby to YVR. 

We left North Burnaby with a full charge on the batteries. The distance guessimator said we had 160 km of range “in the tank”. After dropping my friends off at YVR I returned via highway 91, the East West connector to Coquitlam. I helped get my kids up and ready for school and then I returned to my classroom in New West. 

Then I went home, got my kids and went took them swimming in Coquitlam’s Town Centre pool. The guessimator says I have 80 km of range still in the tank. Another guessimator device on the dash says the Leaf has 48% of the battery charge left. That in itself is interesting because when I got home from work and picked up the girls, it said I had 43% charge. Coming dòwn Mariner Drive added 5% more range to the battery!


As for the feeling of driving the Leaf, I really can’t tell that I’m driving an EV other than when I’m going down steep hills and I can feel the regenerative braking holding the car back. Other than that, it feels no different than any other car that I have driven. 

This evening I am going to a meeting in a building where there is a level 2 charger. I can get approximately 40 km of charge in an hour giving me lots of charge for tomorrow and the next day. 

I’ll update the Leaf experience tomorrow. 

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Monday’s Movie; Kid Snippets

If you want to know what it is like being a primary school teacher, have a look at this Kid Snippets video on the YouTube –

 

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Chicken Cordon Bleu from Farm Town Meats

We took a quick family trip to the cabin a couple of weeks ago and of course before we left I took my kids over to Farm Town Meats in Burnaby to let them choose the meat entree that we would cook for the weekend.

Farm Town Meats

They surprised me by choosing Chicken Cordon Bleu (which doesn’t look all that appetizing before it is cooked!).

Farm Town Meats

Seeing as Josh, the owner and butcher at Farm Town Meats, wants his customers to stay safe as well as be able to enjoy the meat they buy from his shop so on each package are the Cole’s Notes on how to cook the meat.

Farm Town Meats

Seeing as it is cabin-cooking, of course I use one of my classic cast iron pans to cook the chicken cordon bleu.

Farm Town Meats

The Cole’s Notes instructions say to cook the chicken cordon bleu for 45-60 minutes.

I like to be a little more scientific so I use a thermometer to check for internal temperature. And after 45 minutes I pulled the cast iron pan of chicken out of the oven, inserted thermometer and saw that it had reached 165 degrees. Done.

Farm Town Meats

And I have to admit, it was delicious. However, even though my kids chose the chicken cordon bleu – they refused to eat it! They said it “looked weird with that cheese and meat inside of meat”.

The good news? That left it all for me!!

Farm Town Meats is located at 7832 6th Street in Burnaby.

 

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Rest In Peace Gord Downie

Last night Gord Downie, the frontman for Canada’s house band, The Tragically Hip passed away.

May you Rest In Peace Gord. I thank you for all the music you gave us.

With love, Stacey and so many, many Canadians. Go with love.

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Baked Potatoes on Almost Wordless Wednesday 

Dinner last night was in the Burnaby test kitchen where we were playing around with the toaster oven to see how quickly and effectively we could bake a couple of potatoes. Once the potatoes were baked, we added butter, fresh salsa, a little thinly sliced red onion, a bit of our candied bacon, and a side of avocado slices. 


Delicious. On another note, yesterday I picked up an Instant Pot. I’ll be writing more about that as I try it out!

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An Inspirational Thought

As many BC teachers (me included) continue to grapple with implementing new curriculum to their teaching practice, the following quote from George Couros’ book “The Innovator’s Mindset” struck a chord with me,

“Again though, at the heart of innovation are people, not stuff.” 

That’s my inspirational thought to end what has been a very long day.

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The Vita-Mix; My Favourite Appliance

One of my all time favourite kitchen appliances is my Vita-Mix. The Vita-Mix is so much more than a blender! I believe it has a 2 horsepower motor that drives the blade inside the container at something like 20,000 rpm. Crazy powerful.

I used to use my Vita-Mix everyday because it is so easy to use. But then I moved into a condo and, well, the only negative about the Vita-Mix is how noisy it is. So when living in a condo, it is not nice to get up at 6:30am and run the appliance. That will guarantee nasty notes from your neighbours.

So I got out of the habit of using it. But now, after my second hospitalization, and some changes I’m making to my diet, I’m now getting back into the habit of using it!


For example today I used the Vita-mix to make fresh carrot soup. I went out to the garden, pulled up a handful of our carrots, washed them off, and then coarse chopped them into two cups of water.

I brought the water and the carrots to a boil and then let the carrots cook for about two or three minutes.

Then I poured the boiling water and carrots into the Vita-Mix container. A quick rinse of the pot and the dishes from making dinner are almost done.


Sadly, I’m out of veggie stock so I just skipped that. However, I do have oatmeal so I spooned in four heaping teaspoons of rolled oats. Yes, uncooked, dry oats. The rolled oats? Just to add another layer of healthy to the soup. And a big teaspoon of corn starch to thicken the soup.

I also had about a quarter cup of cheddar cheese that I chopped into cubes and added that to the container. And then I set it to blend.

Let it rip for two minutes on the “high” setting and voila- I had a couple bowls of fresh carrot soup.


I poured a couple bowls from the Vita-Mix container, added a pinch of grated Parmesan and a dollop of sour cream and dinner was served.

The best part? My kids actually liked it! And it is healthy!

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