Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Under the Weather

Well, as you may have guessed, I am not feeling well. I spent the weekend fighting a vicious cold, and ended up taking a day off of my practicum in order to rest even more. It was a long weekend to boot, so I spent 4 days basically laid up. I am back at it today, but I am not very enthusiastic, it's midway through the day and I am already tuckered out. That said, I did make a really great soup last night, which is helping me through... I figured I would share the recipe so that I don't forget it...
Alex's 45 minute Do Almost Nothing Chicken Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
3 strips turkey bacon
1/2 white onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 teaspoon cumin
2 chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch peices
3 red potatoes, chopped into 1.5 inch peices
3/4 cup red lentils
6 cups water
6 branches kale, stem removed and chopped to bite size peices
Heat pot, and oil. Medium heat my friends. We can't all be heros.
Add onions, bacon and garlic, and seasoning until onions are sweating/browning.
Add chicken breast, allow chicken to brown a bit, cook about 1/2 way through. (10 minute nap)
Add lentils and potatoes, 3 cups of water, and allow the flavours to blend (10 minute nap)
Add the rest of the water, cover and let it boil a bit (10 minute nap)
Add kale and simmer for 5 minutes.
Makes: 6 cups of earthy deliciousness. Obviously, you can add anything you like- carrots, celery, not add the bacon, use different seasoning... there are variations of every thing... but this is what I did, and it sortof made me feel a bit better.
How does this make me a better human ecologist? Well, I am back at work today, and strong enough to survive till home-time, so I guess thats all that can be hoped for in this ill begotten situation. Get it- Ill? I'm Ill, and it's Ill begotten?
Ha! I crack myself up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Work Work Work

Alright. So here it is.

I am working in an office of a big-little company. I say that because to be honest, there is a lot going on, there is a lot of work, but it’s fairly specialized- each person is an expert at their own thing, so everyone is in their own little corner doing stuff. There’s around 20 people working.

There is an office, and a warehouse. The warehouse is where they keep all the fabric (drool). They run a by the meter section for small business people (seamstresses and designers etc) and then all the big by the roll stuff is in the very back.

I am charged with a marketing review project. I have to do one big project for my practicum, so the company has asked me to review the markets of Eastern Canada, and then possibly the United States and Mexico. My main sources of information are a few contacts within our suppliers, and the web.

Do you remember when the internet was fist coming out, and people thought- ‘everything is going to be on the web. You want to read a book? BAM, on the interweb. You want to Watch TV? DONE- Next Top Model at your fingertips! You want the regulations for all the possibly relevant markets in Eastern Canada concerning the application of Fire Retardant or Hi Visibility tape? BOOOM. Roasted. Like butter. It’s so easy, it makes your momma look like a saint. (Is that appropriate? Probably not. I’m sorry for the ‘your mama’ joke, but honestly, my posts have been so dry lately. I mean- I told you guys about chicken chasing for goodness sakes. It had to be done).

Yeh. They make it sound so easy. So I amend my statement from yesterday. It is not boring, it is hard, and it is tedious. I find some things which may help us get into the markets, if we find out the markets are important, but there’s nothing really connecting the dots. I hope it will all come together and be fabulous, please cross your fingers for me!

How does this help me as a Human Ecologist? Well, it’s a lesson in hard work for starters. I chose textiles because I don’t think I have the mental capacity to withstand the heartbreak of the social work/psychology/family ecology world. But that doesn’t mean that textiles will always be a bucket of daisies, sunshine and puppies. The regulations I am looking for are out there, and they are there to ensure that people who work in construction, first response, electrical work and elsewhere are visible and protected. The company I am doing the research for is an ethical company that really wants to endorse the safest products. They desire to find solutions that will not just meet requirements, but withstand the rigorous life the garments will lead, and provide the protection until the garment is done with. They work with showing the end user and the manufacturer why their product is the right choice because it will last and will be safe. A lot of other suppliers feel they will provide something which meets the requirement and it is the onus of the consumer to ensure that it stands up. In this way, my work can benefit the people who put their lives at risk for their jobs every day.

So go me!
This is what I’m doing, but I always have other stuff on the go. For instance… I have had some follow up from a couture wedding gown designer who I will be meeting with soon to profile her work in Edmonton, so stay tuned!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting my Pheathers Wet

Things I have learned while working for a textiles supplier:

• Sometimes research is boring
• Becoming competent with technology and specs for technical applications is something I will need to do, even if it’s on my own time.
• Chasing pheasants is FUN

Ok, so here’s the story: The break room is really quite alright, it’s a little boring. Microwave, toaster oven, a direct hot spout so you can make tea fast anytime, coffeemaker, fridge, it’s all good. Spring has finally broken into some semblance of decent weather, and we are hitting 15-25 degrees Celsius most days. So sunshine is my friend! I realized (after my first day of sitting on the sidewalk ledge) that there was a rickety picnic table on the edge of our property. So then I sped towards it.

Enter my daily entertainment.

Each day, I scare two little pheasants out from under the table. I don’t know if they are just hanging out, I don’t know if there is a nest of babies, I don’t know if they’re always different pheasants and Alberta has this secretly huge population of this pretty and kinda larger than average bird. The funniest part is they don’t fly away, they scuttle. They just run to other bushes nearby. I don’t know if they’re like chickens and they can’t, but they look hilarious wobbling about, quite sad that I have disabled their shaded liaison for the next half hour…

How does that help me as a human ecologist? Well, right now, it is the brightest part of my day, I get to relax, I am outside in the sun, and I just mull on the delicious things I am eating. It is improving my near environment, which is what Human Ecology is all about.

I will tell you all more about the nitty gritty of my placement soon!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cozying up to the players

First posting in regards to my practicum.

My week was spent in Banff Alberta. I was at the Petroleum Safety Conference. I think this was a great introduction to my practicum: The first day, I was able to basically walk around and visit all the other displays at the trade show. My two 'bosses' were taking care of our booth, or going to the many different proceedings offered: discussions of new safety standards, management issues affecting safety, and more. I was given free reign, to explore. Boy oh boy! Do I have the SWAG (Stuff We All Get)
to show it. There was tonnes of goodies; some free samples for cleaning stuff, glo strips (which I attached to my friend K for safety's sake), a level/screwdriver/flashlight, a sweater, all sorts of stuff. Our company supplies awesome fabric and more to many awesome companies, so instead of giving out pieces of fabric, they gave out something which would connect with the people who were at the conference. This is apparently the 'fun' conference, the conference which gets business done after hours, and the morning after to show it. These are relaxed people who also come to have a good time, make some deals over dinner, and check out what everyone has going on at the trade show.

Enter the 'Tradeshow Survival Kit' a branded, pocket sized packet of goodies, free for everyone: hand sanitizer, painkillers, antacid, band-aids, and finger protectors (insert slightly inappropriate joke here). The truth is this: the many suppliers my practicum site uses are present at this show, but are already working and communicating with our site on a regular basis. All the manufacturers who use this business as a supplier were also at the conference, showing their wares, and again, communicate with us regularly. The importance of this conference is brand recognition, having people who purchase from all the manufacturers knowing and equating our company with quality product. They (We?) are there just to be recognized and be present.

I visited and talked to all the different competitors and partners. Most people were super friendly. Some competitors saw my company name and weren't very nice. Some manufacturers were missing information, stuff which I would think was key :
Me: Why would i choose you as a safety clothing provider
Them: Why wouldn't you? (nervous laughter) Uh... I guess we focus on service
Me: (in brain) Wow. That was a terrible answer. If service is what you offer, sell me that, don't just say "why not"... because my thought is "because I want the best, I don't want to catch on fire."

Later in the conference I got to work the booth, handing out our fabulous nifty gifties, I got to lunch with my main practicum coordinator, and unfortunately, turned down a fabulous dinner invitation because of my dietary restrictions (it was an evening meeting at a fondue place. I basically would have been eating a piece of meat...)

The best part of this was the informal conversation I got to have with my practicum overseers. There was no formal organization of my participation, and we had lots of time to chat when the booth was slow. I think it overcame a lot of the usual awkwardness a person encounters in a new situation, before the real work begins. Monday, (aka today I guess) I will show up and already have a rapport with the bosses! Horray!

I camped with my husband and besty for the week, we had an awesome time, I had a rough time keeping my work clothes from smelling like campfire, but other than that it was amazing.

Boy have I missed blogging! Pictures to come!