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12th Jul, 2007

WGRI 2 - Thursday

My body clock is starting to adjust, and even though my sleep was interrupted again, I do not feel quite as tired today. British Airways has located both of my bags and is sending them to Milan (!) from where they will go by "ground transport" to Paris. ETA 8am Saturday. I was planning to leave the hotel at 7.30. Must do something about that tomorrow. I will also have to buy another bag that will be big enough to hold the extra clothes that I had to buy, a lovely oversized book about the Sahtu that I got from Jody, who is representing the aboriginal community on the delegation, and my laptop case, when I finally retrieve it from BA, as they will not allow me to check more than 2 bags, and I can't take more than one carry-on through Heathrow. Complicated stuff. By now BA owes me I think 320 EURO in clothes compensation. What a pity that I have neither the time nor the disposable cash to really go shopping! I've already spent far too much time on this stuff that I would have wanted to spend meeting people. Grrr.

I feel like I am finding my feet a bit now. Today I was usefully able to facilitate some communication between the Canadian delegation and the NGO community on a couple of topics. Good. Makes me feel like I did something useful. It is quite clear to me now, though, that the ENGO community will have to find a better way of ensuring continuity between events and different delegates to events. It really is no use when every ENGO delegate to every meeting has to start from scratch learning the ropes. I have an interest in continuing to be involved in processes around the CBD, so perhaps I can adopt this as my "baby" and will be able to build expertise over time. The next SSBSTA meeting is going to be on agriculture and forestry, and the next COP will likely also have a strong agricultural component. The problem is that there is only room for one ENGO person on the delegation which makes it hard to mentor new people. If you're on it, you're it.

It's 8pm now. I am waiting for our delegation head to finish his final meeting of the day, so we can go for some food. We started at 8am. 12 hours of pretty much straight work. No breaks worth mentioning. No wonder everybody is so tired, particularly those in the delegation who are here the second week now. It all sounds so glamorous from a distance, but truly, it ain't.

11th Jul, 2007

If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all...

Tuesday evening.  No, my baggage still hasn't arrived. It is starting to feel normal to not have any stuff. I am meeting for dinner with two other NGO people, Jessica and Olivier, in a little café on Place de Cambronne. The weather has turned quite pleasant, so we sit out on the sidewalk. The food is good, the company is good, the conversation is good. Around 11pm I bend down to pick up my purse which has been sitting on the ground next to my chair. It is not there. Oh no. OH NO!!!

My purse has definitely disappeared. We talk to the waiters - they can't even be bothered to look sympathetic. Stolen purses are a daily occurence. I walk around the block to check whether someone might have just lifted the cash - about 60 Euros and a few dollars - and tossed the purse, but no such luck. I have to cancel my credit cards. Olivier still has his laptop with him and the café has, miracle of miracles, free wireless internet access. We get the phone numbers for American Express, MasterCard and the Canadian embassy. The others pay for my meal, and I walk back to the hotel to start calling. 

This is not as easy as it sounds. It takes me and the night desk person at least half an hour to get through to the first one, in this case AMEX. They cancel the card, no problem, and issue a new one which will hopefully be arriving soon after I get home. The customer service person is nice and helpful, and puts me through to MasterCard as well. Same procedure. The MasterCard guy connects me with my credit union at home, so I can cancel my debit cards as well, just in case. The good news is that nobody has attempted to use any of the cards, so they probably really just took the cash and threw the rest away. If I am very lucky, it might turn up.

The stolen purse also contained several other bank cards, my birth certificate, drivers license, social insurance card, health care card, cash, keys, assorted other odds and ends and my cell phone, which doesn't even work in France. What a nuisance. Thankfully, I had left my passport at the hotel. It is now 12.30 am. I am tired and cranky and could really do with someone to cuddle me, but no one comes to mind. No one, that is, who is in Paris at this moment. At least I fall asleep quickly this time and sleep through until 6am.

At breakfast, the rest of my delegation are suitably shocked and sympathetic. I now have no luggage AND no money. People who have known me for two whole days are pulling out their wallets and handing me bills. Everyone remarks on my surprising good cheer, but the truth is, by now the situation has become so bizarre that I can only laugh.

At the UNESCO building our friendly admin person, Florence, helps me contact the embassy and the police. Or, at least, she tries to: All the Canadian embassy's telecommunications are down. No phone, no fax, no internet. The police is available, but I have to go there in person. Florence takes me to the police station, which is very close by. A good thing too, because the police officer's English is no better than my French. Which is not very good. Fortunately, I have the numbers of my credit cards stored on my laptop, and I can retrieve the ID number for my cell phone from the Virgin website. They want all that for the police report. I get several pieces of paper, which will help me re-apply for all my ID. 

Meanwhile, I have missed most of the morning session at the WGRI, but it doesn't sound like I missed anything important. Canada is putting on a side event over lunch, and then in the afternoon the real debating will start. We'll see how that goes. I check on-line for my baggage: so far, they have found only one of my bags which they think they will get to me by Friday!!!! I have to buy more clothes. Ugh. I really didn't want to spend my time shopping. On the other hand, BA is paying for it. Hm.

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10th Jul, 2007

WGRI

So. I'm in Paris. The Parties to the Convention on Biologial Diversity currently participating in the Working Group on Review of Implementation of the CBD are discussing resource mobilization, mainstreaming and the role of the secretariat. Malawi currently has the floor.

Getting to Paris was... less than fun. Heathrow is a disaster zone. Planes were late, connections not made, luggage left behind. I arrived at my hotel at 9pm Sunday evening, having already missed my first meeting which had been scheduled at 6.30 pm, and without my bags. All I had were the clothes I was travelling in, my laptop and my paperwork. I ran out to buy a toothbrush and toothpaste, another member of the delegation lent me a clean shirt for the morning. I didn't even have a jacket and it it's raining in Paris.

The first day passed in a bit of a haze. Jet-lag wakes me up at 4am, decidedly not having had enough sleep. I'm trying to find my feet as a member of the Canadian delegation, feeling distinctly out of my depth. Everybody is very nice, I do not feel I'm being treated like the "token ENGO". I am surprised at how "information-dense" these meetings are. Every minute of the day is stuffed full of something. It is actually difficult to find time to eat. I'm learning on my feet. As so often, the really important stuff happens in the corridors and over lunch. By the evening of the first day, I have already made several important contacts for follow-up and future work. Amazing how these things go. 

Also by the evening of my first day,  my luggage has still not arrived. British Airways has oh so kindly allocated me 150 Euros to go buy some clothes. I run out to go clothes shopping in Paris. It's a good thing there is a sale on - else 150 E wouldn't get me very far. After a couple of hours in the wrong kinds of stores I have acquired a new shirt, a snazzy jacket and some underwear. I failed at pants - everything I try on is 6" too long for my short legs. It's 8.30 and I still haven't had any food. I find a tiny little, but obviously rather upscale restaurant which is packed to the gills and have something delicious that I think was partridge. Pintade. The waiter didn't know the English word - but it's definitely a gamebird and too big for quail. The dish also involves polenta, chanterelles and a coconut milk sauce. Mmmmm. 

The next morning, jet-lag wakes me up at 2.30 am. Grrrrr. Since I can't get back to sleep, I give up and use the hours until morning to complete a draft document that I am writing for our provincial Ministry of Environment. This will make them very happy. By breakfast time I am ready to go back to sleep. Bigger sigh. 

I'm feeling on more solid ground during today's morning briefing and am actually able to usefully participate in the discussion. Everybody treats me as an equal. Very nice. Back in plenary, which basically involves listening to speaker after speaker from different countries present their views on agenda items for hours and hours, I am struggling to stay awake. Not good. After lunch, I finally resort to coffee to keep myself awake. It appears to work somewhat, but it may also just be that my bodyclock thinks it is now morning and time to wake up...

We will have a side-event this evening on biotechnology which I really don't want to miss. After that Jessica from the CBD Alliance wants to meet me for a working dinner. She leaves tomorrow, so this is our last chance. 

All appearances to the contrary, I am having fun!

 

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21st Mar, 2007

Lucky stars...

I drive an '88 Ford truck, typical battered farm vehicle. It is pretty indispensible to my existence here, as I use it to haul grain and hay, lumber, fencing materials or animals. It has always run like a little sewing machine, despite its age. But recently, it has started to act up. First, I kept running out of fuel much faster than I should: I had always got 400km on a full tank, now I was only getting 250km. I thought I had a fuel leak, so I took it to the garage to let them have a look at it last week. They determined that it wasn't a fuel leak, but then ran out of time to find out what was causing the problem, and since I needed the truck the next day, I took it home with me. The plan was to take it back in to get fixed next week, when I will be away in Ottawa and won't need it.

Well, so much for the plan. On the next trip I took - a couple of hours up-Island on the highway - the engine ran so badly, that I thought I was going to break down. I did make it home, but now I was really worried: I knew I was going to have to haul in a load of feed on Friday, and I really didn't fancy breaking down with three quarters of a tonne of grain in the back... So, I called the garage again and begged them to take the truck in today.

I dropped the truck off around 10am this morning and was told to check in with them around noon, to see what was happening. Since I didn't have transportation to get back home, I hung around town, doing useful things like getting a haircut, and using the public access internet terminals in the library to sort out some of the most urgent e-mails of today. At 12, I phoned the garage. 

Bad news. They had been running diagnostic tests to find out what was causing my fuel problems, and during that process the mechanic steps on the brake. And finds his foot going right to the floor. So, he gets out of the truck to see what the matter is, and finds brake fluid gushing onto the floor of his workshop. A brakeline had burst. 

It was sheer fluke that it happened then and there in the garage. Had I not taken the truck in today, it would have probably happened the next time I used it and put any serious load on the brake system. On Friday, hurtling downhill on the highway with a 3/4 tonne load in the back. The result would not have been pretty. It is quite likely that I would have lost my life, and possibly several other people with me.

So, all in all, I would say this was a GOOD day. Despite the fact that the mechanic then spent 2 unexpected hours replacing all of my brakelines. And then another hour determining that the fuel pump was the most likely culprit for the original problem. And another 2 hours and several failed attempts trying to find a replacement fuel pump that would actually fit my truck - appparently they stopped manufacturing the ones intended for it. The truck is, after all, almost 20 years old. And another hour putting the finally obtained new fuel pump back in. He stopped working on my truck at 6.15 tonight. The engine is running like a sewing machine again.

18th Mar, 2007

Everybody wants to dine at Quennell Lake Poultry...

 
On Friday morning, I was woken up at 4am by chickens squawking outside. I didn’t bother to get up and check, because whatever it was, the dogs would take care of it. Or so I thought.
 
When I went out in the morning, I found that a mink had managed to sneak past the dogs and kill four drakes (male ducks, for the non-poultry people) that were penned up together. Damn. I had been keeping those for breeding this year. The mink even managed to drag one of the carcasses – several times its own body weight!  – through the gap under the fence of the pen and another 20m along where it stopped to feast.
 
Not only was I upset about loosing my drakes, I was angry at myself for NOT getting up to check (though in reality it would probably have been too late by the time I got there), angry at the dogs for sleeping on the job, and worried that the mink, having had a taste of the excellent dining available, would be frequenting this establishment regularly from now on.
 
I was right about the latter. Saturday morning I found a dead hen, neatly killed by the tell-tale quick bite to the back of the neck. The chickens usually roost quite high up on perches or in the trees, and mink don’t climb, but this hen must have been sitting on the ground for some reason. With distinct annoyance in my voice I called for Arantxa (main dog in charge) to come and offer me an explanation for this fiasco while checking around to see if there were any other corpses. Indeed there was one more: that of the mink. Arantxa had caught and killed it. Good girl Arantxa.



 
This mink is the first predator my dogs have ever killed. The reason I have my pack of livestock guardian dogs is that I wish to live in peaceful co-existence with the local wildlife as far as possible. Racoons, mink, eagles, hawks, owls, ravens, not to mention the occasional stray dog, ALL want to eat my poultry. We even get the rare bear or cougar. Most farmers around here deal with predator problems by a combination of locking their poultry up in coops built like Fort Knox – no free ranging for these birds – and trapping, shooting and poisoning the culprits, which I couldn’t possibly justify to myself. The dogs’ first line of defense is simply barking. Most predators heed the warning and stay away. The mink, sadly, paid the price for not listening.
 
The mink was not the only visitor we had these past days. Late on Friday, a huge ruckus outside – chickens squawking, ducks quacking, all the dogs barking, even the goats joined in. When I went to investigate, I found a huge Bald Eagle sitting in the top of one of the tall firs. The bird was so heavy that the top 10 feet or so of the tree were leaning over to one side. I had some stern words with the bird. It politely ignored me. Eventually it flew off, without any take-out!

9th Mar, 2007

(no subject)

Talking about music to W. the other day reminded me how much I love this album - haven't listened to it for too long. 

I love my quiet rural life - but tonight I wish I were out dancing, surrounded by friends and lovers, loosing myself in the music and the movement of my body and the joy.

2nd Mar, 2007

(no subject)

I was just going to look for rubber boots. Honestly. But the thrift store turned out to be closed, and across the street from it is a big used record store which I had never yet visited.

One must understand this: most of the people who operate used music stores do it because they love the music. (Used book store owners are much the same.) They love finding the beautiful, unusual, exciting, obscure, different. They love rescuing it from horrible death by landfill, and finding new homes for it - that one person who will really appreciate that piece of music. The problem is that the unusual, exciting, obscure, different doesn't sell in large volumes. Or any volume. Particularly in a town like Nanaimo. It sits, and sits, and sits.... So they have these wonderful stores full of wonderful stuff - and no cash flow.

I went in with the intention of looking for two or three things I had been meaning to acquire for some time. I walked out with no less than eight (8!) CDs. None of them the things that I had been looking for. (There is a reason why I take care not to visit stores like this one too often...) There was one CD I had been meaning to buy for nearly 20 years. Really. A couple of new things from old friends. And a few things I'd never heard of before, but which sounded far too INTERESTING to pass up. The store owner kindly offered to play the "unknowns" for me, so I could decide whether I really liked them. I loved them all. I was jumping up and down in the store with excitement and whooping with delight. The store owner was so happy to have found homes for his precious treasures, that he knocked a dollar off the price of each. I think I made his day. He certainly made mine!

The list:

Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares - saw the choir 20 years ago in Germany and have been haunted by the music ever since
Nigel Eaton (of Blowzabella fame) & friends; The Music of the Hurdy Gurdy - the guy's a genius.
Hevia; Tierra de Nadie - bagpipe music from Spain
Djeli Moussa Diawara; FlamenKora - flamenco music on the Kora. I'm not kidding.
Cesaria Evora; Mornas & Coladeras - grande dame of Cape Verdean song
Huun-Huur-Tu; The Orphan's Lament - a Mongolian troupe
plus a couple of Latin dance music CDs.

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28th Feb, 2007

(no subject)

So I'm driving into town earlier today, and notice out of the corner of my eye a Doberman dog. Carrying a 2x6 in its mouth. Which it had obviously stolen from a nearby building site. People are moving out of the way to avoid being knocked over. The dog carefully walks over to a patch of lawn, balancing its trophy while trying not to trip over the leash it is dragging, then drops it to the ground and proceeds to chew it up. The lights changed just then, so I didn't see the end result. 

It's a funny old world.

25th Feb, 2007

Gender stereotypes and work clothing

Mark's Work Wearhouse doesn't carry rubber boots in my size (women's 7). At least not the kind you can actually do any work in, as opposed to the pink frou frou variety meant for standing around looking pretty. What is that? Women don't work? Women don't go outdoors in the rain??? Grrrrrrr. I hate that. The guys get all the good work gloves, too.

Maria, who has been wading though ankle deep mud in rubber boots with a hole in them...

21st Feb, 2007

LJ as Salon

So. I have pondered what I would like to do with this LJ space, and I think I would like to host a salon. Check here for historical reference:

http://www.salon.com/archives/welcome/history.html

Interdisciplinary, multicultural discussion of life, the universe and everything.

Now I need to work out the details. Suggestions, anyone?

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