Last night Kish and I were at a dinner for the conference I’m attending here in Vancouver when we noticed an odd sensation. I looked up at one of the hanging light fixtures and saw that it was swaying noticeably from side to side.
At first, I thought it was the overly vigorous dancing of some of our fellow attendees, who were stoked with alcohol and out cutting a rug to a live band. After all, when dozens of apparently well-lubricated people are twisting, gyrating, stomping, shimmying, and mashed potatoing to their maximum capability, it’s not unreasonable to expect the light fixtures to feel the impact. But it wasn’t the dancing — it was an honest-to-God earthquake, coming in at 6.7 magnitude on the Richter scale, that set the light fixtures to trembling. And then it was over before we realized it.
I’ve been in very mild earthquakes before, but this one made our visit to Vancouver special. Having lived through a noticeable tremor, we feel we can truly say that we have experienced the west coast.
This afternoon Kish and I walked along the waterfront and stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Cardero’s. We decided to share a seared yellowfin tuna appetizer, but I had a hankering for a cheeseburger for my entree.
“I’ll have the burger medium rare,” I told the waitress.
“Sorry, sir,” the waitress replied. “It’s against the law to serve any hamburger that isn’t cooked to be well done.”
“Yes, but don’t worry — it will still be juicy.”
Yeah, right! But I ordered my burger anyway, even though I normally would consider any beef cooked to be well done to be a colossal waste of good meat. And, despite the reassurances of our waitress, when I got the cheeseburger it was overcooked and on the dry side — certainly not as juicy and delectable as a medium rare burger.
When we got back to our hotel room I checked — and sure enough, in Canada provincial statutes and health codes require ban medium rare hamburgers. I was shocked, but perhaps I shouldn’t be; it’s just the nanny state notion run amok in our neighbor to the north. I wonder, though — how do the health regulators who have insisted that burgers be grossly overcooked to avoid bad health consequences explain the reality south of the border, where bloody red and dripping medium rare burgers are the norm and the happy people consuming them don’t seem to be keeling over as a result?
Our first night in Vancouver, Kish and I were jolted awake because a prior occupant of our room had set the clock radio alarm. We stumbled over, bleary-eyed, to paw at the device and shut it off.
But then this morning the alarm sounded again. We obviously didn’t shut it off entirely, and now we have two options — spend precious moments trying to figure out an alien clock-radio that is far more complicated than our home unit, or just suck it up and accept that we are going to be awakened at the same time tomorrow. Since the first scenario is undoubtedly beyond our stunted technological capabilities and the second is unacceptable, we’ll probably just unplug the damned thing.
Please, travelers, don’t set that alarm! Use the alarm function on your smartphone, or get a wakeup call from the front desk instead. If you set the clock-radio alarm, you know you won’t disable it before you leave the room — and if you don’t no one else will, ever. If you set the alarm on the clock radio, you therefore are dooming generations of future guests to fumbling with that screeching alarm at your designated time until doomsday comes — or until some other thoughtless individual resets the alarm for a different time.
No hotel clock radio alarm that gets set ever gets fully turned off. It’s as permanent as the pyramids. So fellow travelers, please have mercy!