Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas roundup

I left SJ on the 22nd around suppertime, with a giant container of presents from my Dad for my older brother, SIL, and nephew. Surprisingly, the airline didn't charge an oversize fee, despite the fact that it did exceed the limit. I packed one suitcase inside the other, and with the presents I had to take to SoCal, I ended up packing military-style so I could fit everything in. I arrived in Montreal slightly early, collected my luggage, and waited for my brother to arrive at the airport.

I had a fun time in Montreal, despite not being there very long. I don't normally get to see my brother at Christmas anymore, so it was great to have that as a treat. My nephew seemed happy to see me. Tanq the cat was doing well also, and seemed to continue his enjoyment of my company. Not sure why he likes/doesn't mind me, but he does.

I left Montreal without issue, and thoroughly enjoyed my flight in business class. I was seated on the left side of the plane, which in business class on this plane only had a single seat in my row. I could get up to use the bathroom without disturbing anyone anytime I wanted! It was great! The legroom was also spacious, as you can see. I had a meal of cold cuts & cheese, and like the good old days, it was included with my ticket.

I arrived in Denver early, thankfully. I didn't know I had to switch terminals, and had only been through the Denver airport once before. I ended up having time to hop into the first class lounge, free access included with my ticket. Swanky compared to the usual gate waiting areas.

I left Denver without issue on a first-class United flight to Orange County. Niiiice. They served us a small dish of warmed nuts (no peanuts, of course, but still cool). My meal was a choice of Tuscan wrap or chef salad (I chose the salad) with a chocolate chip cookie, roll, etc. The put out tablecloths and served our meals with real glasses, cutlery, and plates. I have flown first class before, but it had been a really long time since I had the luxury. I now remember why they pull the curtain, because it really is a whole other level of service. The flight attendants are so much nicer and actually seem happy to be doing their job, as opposed to the economy section.

I arrived in SoCal right on schedule. I am still surprised at how smooth my travel went. Despite being wary of flying through Denver (where John's mother was stuck for 2 days on her way to our wedding), it was actually the better choice. I normally end up flying through Chicago, but if I had ended up there, I would have gotten stuck in a storm and likely been delayed. I hope my return flight, which is through Chicago and Toronto, doesn't result in my being stuck somewhere. I need to return home on time for work.

John's tree is perfect for his apartment, as it is basically half a tree that is designed to fit against a wall. He did a great job decorating for my arrival.
On Christmas Eve morning, we decided to head to Denny's for breakfast. We saw this truck in the parking lot, complete with audio. I laughed.

The amount of Christmas decorations in Irvine has been very disappointing. When I was here at US Thanksgiving last year, there seemed to be more in place. This year I have seen very few, and thus do not have many pictures to share. I tried taking a picture of a car with antlers and a red nose, but keep missing the opportunity with my camera.

We attended mass on Christmas Eve, which ended up being standing room only; luckily we got there early and were able to sit. The place was packed and so warm with the huge number of people. We had a good Christmas morning. He bought me items from my wishlist and a couple of surprises, and I surprised him with some items he mentioned he wanted but hadn't specifically asked for. We also opened presents from my brother & SIL. After having breakfast, making some calls home, and getting showered, we headed to the desert to visit with John's mother.

We spent Christmas day with John's mother and had Christmas dinner -- a delicious ham, mmmm. She doesn't normally do much decorating for Christmas, but with my arrival and a party she was hosting, decided to do some this year, which I appreciated. Presents from her included a really nice sweater, an afghan which she made for our bedroom (in purple, of course), and matching hats for John and I. Hey, we're married now, and they say married people grow to look alike. We'll start with hats. :)

On Boxing Day, we headed over the hill to visit with John's dad and stepmother. They were happy we made it out to the desert for a visit. We had lunch with them and talked for quite a while. After receiving a phone call from John's mother, we realized that we had forgotten the afghan and stopped on the way home to pick it up. After leaving there, we headed home, but I insisted on a stop at the Cabazon outlet mall so I could pick up a couple of items at the Jockey store. The mall was very busy, but not as crazy as we thought.

We stayed in on the 27th for the most part because John wasn't feeling well. The desert had been colder than we expected, and the change in climate likely triggered John's cold. On the 28th, John took me shopping to NY & Co. and I bought a bunch of clothes (50% off sale, how can you go wrong?). We had lunch at Olive Garden, and then John really needed a rest, so he had a nap while I did some shopping at the mall across the street and Costco, within walking distance.

Today was his friends' Secret Santa party. We had a good time, even got to watch parts of the Pats game in between socializing. It was good to see his friends again. My Secret Santa present was a green fleece blanket (a new couch blankie, which will match better with the living room and be used when I have the purple one in use elsewhere) and the book form of Wicked.

In amongst our days thus far, we've managed to watch a few movies. Pirates 3 was a huge disappointment and a waste of 3h. Knocked Up wasn't bad, better than I thought it would be. National Treasure, though it left me saying "yeah, right, like that's possible" in a few places, was entertaining and I liked it in the popcorn-movie genre. I will likely see the sequel.

We still have yet to get to Cheesecake Factory, but will try and do that in the next 2 days. We also want to see a couple of movies in the theatre, but that will depend on how we're feeling.

My mother has been writing me emails, telling me of the storms that have hit home. I do not miss the shoveling at all, nor the maintenance of a fire, nor the being alone. I am not looking forward to coming home, but I do need to work and make money. Reality bites.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I am stressed out today.  I didn't sleep well last night due to a nightmare involving someone dying, and I am still feeling kind of disturbed by it this morning.  I have to leave my house for the airport in about 27 hours, and all I have packed are John's presents and a shirt I have to return.  I still need to pack the regular clothes & personal items.  I still need to see my grandfather and install his anti-virus software.  I need to do laundry.  Tonight is Lisa's birthday dinner at Suwanna, which I am looking forward to, but due to the amount of stuff I still have to do, will have to go home right after dinner. 
Tomorrow morning I have to be at my hair appointment for 9:30am.  Dad is now taking me to the airport due to the giant Rubbermaid container of gifts that he needed to send with me to Montreal.  The container is really only half-full, but there was an odd-shaped item for my brother and that container was the only one that would fit things.  I think my mother is a bit disappointed not to be taking me, so I will need to see her before leaving tomorrow.  I can tell she is sad that I'm leaving, but understands that it's only fair that I spend xmas in SoCal this year.  I did actually cry after leaving her house the other night (we had dinner and I opened my gifts).  It's hard to be away from my family at Christmas.  I am trying to switch gears and focus on seeing my husband and my older brother, the two very positive things about this year.  I also don't have to shovel anything or maintain a fire in the stove for the next week... a nice break.
John went out this week and bought a small artificial tree, which he decorated yesterday and Caly has taken to chewing.  John isn't much of a fan of Christmas, so I really appreciate his efforts to make the apartment more festive for me.  I hope Caly hasn't eaten it all by the time I get there.  :P
On another positive note, my younger brother has maintained health and will not be in the hospital over Christmas this year.  He is very excited to be in his own apartment, with his tree, and his health and freedom.  That is the best gift he has gotten this year, and he is very thankful.  I am too, it's good to see him healthier and happy to be so.
I am going to head home for lunch and try and get at least a few more things done/packed in order to take at least a bit of the edge off my stress level.  I know it will all get done, or not, eventually.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The best Christmas yet

I’ve been trying to figure out, during the past few years, why it is that Christmas just doesn’t feel the same anymore. There are many reasons: I am older, I know about Santa, I no longer live at home, most of my grandparents are gone, my parents are divorced, my older brother is living away and no longer comes home for Christmas, the house I grew up in is no longer available to “go home to”.

I have a lot of fond memories of Christmas. I remember the anticipation of waiting for the day. Once I was old enough, I was in charge of some of the decorating. In my usual style, this meant doing things exactly the same as every other year. I find change discomforting, and familiarity and repetition soothing.

There is a part of me who desperately wants to be that little girl, staring out my Christmas-lit bedroom window, watching the snow through the light of the street lamp, just taking the time to look at all of the surrounding houses, streets, hills, and lights. Waking up early, quietly waiting for 7:30am, the earliest we were allowed to go downstairs. My older brother and I taking the “long way around” on Christmas morning to see our gifts, according to the plan we mapped out and then stuck in the secret hiding place (do the people who own my old house even know that that hiding place exists?) Watching my younger brother open his presents, discovering that they were clothes, and chucking them over his shoulder to get to the better stuff. Having my grandparents walk over from their house next door to join us for present opening. The usual post-gift-opening trek to my other grandparents’ house on the East side to see my extended family. Returning home to get ready for Christmas dinner, playing with my new stuff, and wondering what prize my Christmas cracker would contain this year.

A lot of that is now gone: the house, some of the people have passed away, and my immediate family dynamic has undergone a lot of upheaval. I didn’t realize then how much all of that would mean to me later in life. What I wouldn’t give for the chance to relive some of those times, and I feel a big sense of loss in the inability to not go back.

Given all of that, you can imagine how I must feel about flying across the continent for Christmas this year. I get upset about the fact that I am a few km away from what I considered “home” for the majority of my life thus far, let alone being on the other side of North America. What few things that have stayed the same over the years won’t even be there this year. This has been giving me a bit of anxiety. What are the holidays without snow, cold, my immediate family, family parties, my church, and my friends? I will have my husband, for which I can't be thankful enough, but everything else will be different.

I have been away from home for Christmas twice before. Once was not too shocking, as it involved going to Montreal with my mother & brother, and staying at my brother’s house. Still cold, snowy, and family around, though I was sad to have had to leave my then-boyfriend behind. The first time I was away from home at Christmas was when I was 10. My family was in the middle of our trip around the world. We spent Christmas in Melbourne, Australia. Our tree consisted of a decorated plant in the hotel room, and my stocking was a knee-high purple sock. What I remember the most about that Christmas, though, was going to a park to see a fireworks display. It was amazing. To this day, I have never seen anything as spectacular as that, and I will never forget it. That was something I would never have experienced had I not been away from home.

Recent Christmases, though they have been fine, have come with that sense of missing something, whether it be people, traditions, or just the anticipation. They have ended up feeling like a let-down. Maybe this year will be the year that I am able to get some of the special feeling back again. I won’t be at home, wishing for the good old days. I will be in a new place, with new experiences, and no precedents or expectations to live up to, spending it with a loving husband and a ribbon-eating cat. It’s hard for me to let go of the past, but this just might be the jolt I need to get out of my old way of thinking. This can be the best Christmas yet, if I just allow it to unfold.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Decorated tree

I am feeling a bit better today. I am not the human snot factory that I have been the last few days. I plan on rejoining the rest of the world tomorrow.

I managed to get my decorations up this past weekend, and it's giving me some cheer. Here is a pic of my decorated purple tree:
It wasn't a conscious effort, but it has ended up with ornaments mostly from friends. The topper is an ornament Jenn gave me last year. Chris' penguins are there, as well as a snowman/bell from T-L, a star made by Regan, and the angel cat made by Mare. The elephant and flower are ornaments my mother brought back from Mexico and Bermuda, respectively. There is also a gold engraved ornament from Nana, which one year almost got thrown out with our tree, but was rescued in time, thankfully. Rounding things out is my Daffy ornament with his giant stocking (very Daffy, of course) and John's superhero ornament. Minimal for me, but it works nicely and is great to showcase things given to me by friends. I also put some lights on it; purple ones, of course.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sad, but realistic

It's Sunday, and I am still sick. I don't know what has happened to me over the last few years in that when I get a cold, it seems to turn into this giant monster that won't go away. I suppose I am not helping things by not just taking a sick day and resting, but there are things to be done. I am on my own again, and no one else is here to cook meals, do my laundry, and my phone even rang at 10:50pm last night regarding work. Common sense tells me that I need to rest to beat this, but my life is just too busy to be put on hold. I'm doing the best I can.

I made a decision today, one which I am not happy about, but I think it makes the most sense. I am not going to put up outside Christmas lights this year. I seriously debated going outside today to put up what I could without attempting for the gutter I can't reach. When I thought about it in a practical sense, though, I really shouldn't be hanging around outside in the cold while I am still sick. I'm leaving in two weeks, and there's not much point of putting up outside lights at this point. It's stupid, I know, but it just makes me sad. I really enjoy my lights. I regret being lazy earlier in John's visit and not getting them out when it was still a reasonable temperature/snowless outside and he was here to help.

I have the bins out in my living room with my inside lights, so I am going to plow ahead and get those up. I must have some decorations up inside, at the very least. That is one of my favorite parts about Christmas. I am not going to put up everything I usually do, though. I'm not hosting any parties and won't be here through the actual holiday, so I'm just going to put up what I can and what I feel like enjoying. I still have to decorate the purple tree too.

For next year, I vow two things:
1) I will return to having a real tree and look forward to visiting the tree farm with Dad and the family chain saw.
2) John and I will get the outside lights put up in November, on a mild weekend, so that they are in place and ready to turn on when the time comes.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A little too quiet

After two false starts, John finally made it on the Toronto flight out of Saint John, on his way home to SoCal. I cried pretty hard after leaving him at the airport the first time, and I was so happy to have him for those two extra days, that I didn't end up crying as he left this time. I'm sure it will hit me later, but for now I will be content with the fact that I didn't bawl my head off for once.

It is, though, a little too quiet around here. John is not a noisy person, just the opposite, in fact. What you don't realize is the quiet presence of another person in the house, that feeling of comfort from knowing you're not alone. Now I'm back to being alone again, and I can't say as I like it very much.

I always have a really hard time adjusting back to my single life after he leaves. I got married for a reason, and that reason wasn't to be alone. I have successfully proven that I can be alone, but now that that's over, I really would just like to have my husband around.

He spoils me when he's here, or at least I consider it spoiling. Today, when the plow guy didn't show up, we shoveled the driveway together. The night I came back from a work trip to Moncton, he had dinner ready and on the table (and had even ventured outside to use the BBQ!!) The simple fact that he cleans up after himself, puts dishes away, keeps the fire going: these are all small things that I really value. Being here by myself means I am responsible for everything. That is wearing me down.

Between now and Christmas is going to be a busy time for both of us. John has to book and complete his medical exam. I need to update all of our paperwork now that I have changed my name, review and assemble everything, and have it ready to take with me. I hope we'll be able to sign and mail the paperwork when I come back after Christmas. In addition to that, I still need to finish my shopping, do the wrapping, pack for my trip, and somehow try to get more done at work in the run of a day than is humanly possible. All of those tasks would be a lot less daunting if John were here, just because he makes me happy.

Thankfully there is not such a large gap between visits this time... just under 3 weeks and I will see him again. I miss him already.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The purple tree was found!

Despite my efforts to call every Superstore from St. Stephen to Moncton, apparently they had trees they weren't aware of. My mother was out shopping this week, happened to see the colored trees, and went digging. At the very back of the shelf was the last purple tree, so she bought it for me. YAY! So I now have a purple tree for decorating this year. It is, of course, not as nice as the picture looks, but I like it nonetheless.

Now to dig out my purple lights and decide which small ornaments I can hang on it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The purple tree

Having a real Christmas tree sitting around while I'm gone to SoCal is somewhat of a fire hazard. That means I won't be getting a real tree for the house this year. I have been contemplating what to do instead, but didn't want to buy a full-size artificial tree. Then I saw this ad in the weekend flyers:

A purple Christmas tree? Sold! Or more accurately, all sold out. I called every Superstore between St. Stephen and Sussex, and all of the purple ones are sold out.

I'm going to do some digging around online to see what I can find. I see a few on eBay, but I'm getting tired of seeing the cost of shipping be so high just to ship to Canada.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm being stalked

I have stalkers at my office. Or, as they are more commonly known, mice. I was sitting at my desk yesterday and saw something gray and dust bunny-looking under my desk on the mousetrap (which was still there from the last time I had mice in my office). I had Scott check it out, and he told me I'd better leave.

Needless to say, I've been having the heebie-geebies for last 24h. Why do they insist on always hanging out around me? I have kept food in plastic containers in here, and never leave food garbage lying around, so I think it must be the warmth from the equipment that draws them to this room. Why, though, do they always end up near my desk instead of elsewhere?

I have somewhat seriously considered suggesting we have an office cat. I have also given some thought to borrowing Zed, as he is a good mouser. ;)

It could be worse... they are only in my office.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Ketchup & Trivia

I'm not a big fan of the Mediterranean restaurant. I haven't eaten a dish there for which there isn't a better version elsewhere in the city. I was there for lunch yesterday and had very soggy fish & decent chips.

What I did like about being at the Mediterranean yesterday was the ketchup. Ketchup? Yes, ketchup. I apparently missed hearing about this, but Heinz partnered with Hasbro at the end of 2006 to produce these ketchup packets. The trivia questions coincide with last year's release of Trivial Pursuit 80s Edition.
I absolutely love this idea, even if it wasn't exclusively 80s trivia. What a great way to pass the time while waiting for your food... even better that the readable place mat or Coffee News. ;)

The Menagerie

I had originally stopped by the Empire Theatres website to see if they were showing The Beatles' "Help!" on November 26th. Unfortunately, Cineplex Odeon is the chain that is doing this special showing. My mother would have really enjoyed that, so I was considering taking her to see it. Alas, no dice. In the meantime, though, I stumbled on this:

I am sooooo pumped to see this. Had I not stopped by the Empire website today, I wouldn't have known anything about it. I also decided I had better sign up for their weekly newsletter so that I don't miss these types of events again.

Original series Star Trek has always been a favorite of mine. I own all 3 seasons on DVD, but seeing this episode on the big screen will be so much fun. John and my younger brother are going with me. My brother is particularly interested in seeing this because he's a fan of Capt. Pike.

To resurrect a phrase: woo yeah, yippee yippee yeah yeah.

Thank you, US$

I just found a steal of a deal on a Christmas present for my mother from me, my brothers, and our spouses. The item sells for $730 at Sears. Today I found it on, on a Friday Sale, for US$269.99. With HST at the border, I am coming in at just under $300. You can't tell me that isn't worth a trip to Calais.

Monday, November 05, 2007


...I'd like to be asked too.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Post-tropical storm after effects

I took the news of the post-tropical storm seriously. I bought supplies, had my flashlight and candles handy, and was ready for some time without electricity. Luckily, none of that was needed. The winds howled overnight, but not loudly enough to keep me awake.

I got up this morning and went to the bathroom, as is my usual first stop. Walking toward the window, I saw something that wasn't normal... a tree was lying on the ground.

I knew I needed this tree removed because it was mostly dead, but removing a tree isn't something I can do on my own. I was going to get Dad's help, but now it's not really necessary. Post-tropical storm Noel came by and brought it down for me. It doesn't appear to have hit or damaged anything on its way down. I guess this is one of the few conveniences of hurricane-force winds.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why I love my TiVo

I was discussing with Jay what we should watch tonight after we hand out candy at my house. I flipped over to Zap2it to see what Halloween-type movies are on today. I found one that might be of interest, so I logged in to the TiVo website and set the movie to record. Once the recording has been confirmed, I will get an email to that effect.

I love my TiVo.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Why do people listen to your whole voicemail message, then hear the beep, then hang up?

I can understand how some messages do not include the most important information at the beginning of the message, so by the time you have listened to the message, you are "surprised" by the beep and abruptly hang up. I, however, make a point of putting the important information (such as when I am out of the office and when I will be back) early in the message, ending my message with "or if you'd like to leave a message, I'll return your call at x time..." There is plenty of time for the person to discover that I am not here and when I will be back.

The person calling me should either want to leave a message so I will return their call, or hang up and try calling me again later. Why, then, do some people insist on listening to the whole message and hanging up after the beep, leaving me with a snippit of a conversation and a clang of the phone, which costs me 10¢ to check (at work) and delete? I've changed my voicemail message at work once in almost 7 years... I think by now they should know what the message is going to say.

It's annoying.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Crush Cream Soda Conspiracy, part 4

I traded emails with someone who works for Pepsi (the bottler of Crush products). The answer is: yes, they do produce two different colors of cream soda. They told me it started this past year. It apparently has been sold in two varieties in Ontario for a while (though some of you have said it's been around here longer as well). She did tell me though that the cans are supposed to have the red variety and the clear is sold in 591mL bottles. Perhaps that plant in Quebec mixed things up.

As I first blogged, I expected this was going to be the answer when I called the 1-800 line. Unfortunately, it seems the conglomerate doesn't bother to inform their call centre employees of things like this. I haven't decided whether or not to call back and discuss the issue further.

This process has left me feeling frustrated. If I had been given the proper information in the first place, I wouldn't have been confused and looking for answers. I should have checked with my Pepsi friend first, I guess.

I do wish, if they are going to continue to put the clear in a can, that it would be labelled "clear". I like to know what I'm getting. Yes, it tastes the same, but I would still like to know. It's purely aesthetics and a personal preference, but I want the red variety.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Crush Cream Soda Conspiracy, part 3

I was out shopping on Saturday and went to Wal-Mart, where I bought the last remaining items I needed for Halloween candy. While I was there, I picked up another Crush Rainbow Pack of pop. I purposefully stuck a can of cream soda from the new pack into the fridge to chill. I opened it the next day, and it was indeed the usual red color.

Similarities: Crush rainbow pack, 24 cans, all the same flavors. Identical can design and ingredients listing.

Differences: Old can had a gold top and "Quebec" written on it with the recycling message. New can had a silver top and did not say "Quebec."

Additional info: From visiting my brother in Montreal, I know that they do not color their margarine in Quebec. It is actually illegal to color margarine to look like butter in Quebec -- the dairy industry believes that colored margarine would hurt butter sales. Read more about that issue here.

Conclusion: Perhaps cans of Crush Cream Soda are not colored if they are manufactured in Quebec.

This is somewhat of a stretch, because the colored margarine issue in Quebec is strictly a dairy industry issue. However, it's odd that both margarine and Crush cream soda manufactured in Quebec are missing color. Another piece of the puzzle.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Crush Cream Soda Conspiracy, part 2

I called the company back today with the information from the bottom of the can. Unfortunately, I don't have any concrete answer as to why it is clear and not red. They suggest it might be a case of the color being omitted from the bottling process, but they are adamant that it is always supposed to be red in color. They are going to contact the bottler based on the codes from the bottom of the can to see what is happening. They are sending me coupons for free product since they consider the quality of my product not to be up to standards.

I am considering calling back in a couple of weeks and seeing if there are any more notes added to my case.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Crush Cream Soda Conspiracy

For me, this began last year around Halloween. I purchased a Rainbow Pack of Crush pop from Wal-Mart. I opened a can of cream soda, and lo and behold, the liquid was clear in color instead of the usual red/pink. I thought to myself, hunh, I wonder if they're changing the color? If they were, I wasn't a big fan of that idea because I like the red. It's the only brand that is red in color.

My co-worker came in the office today with a plastic bottle of cream soda and we got to talking about how I had seen clear cream soda. He said he knows he's had clear cream soda before, but thought they just produced two different colors normally. In true John fashion, I decided to call the 1-800 number on the side of the can. I was determined to figure out what was happening to Crush cream soda.

I called in and explained my question, thinking I would hear the answer of "yes, we're phasing out the red color" or "we produce two different colors all the time." The answer I received, from a concerned-sounding agent, was that cream soda should always be red. She said the clear color was a quality issue. She asked me if I had the can with codes printed on the bottom, the UPC bar code from the outside of the pack, when it was purchased, and at what store. I was at work, so didn't have the info handy. She gave me a case number and asked me to call back with as much information I could find. From the information, she wanted to contact the manufacturer about the issue. She also suggested I not consume the product -- not because it was unsafe, but that it may not be up to the same quality standards and might taste slightly different.

The last batch of cream soda I purchased was from Costco a few months ago. I knew that pack also contained the clear cream soda, so tonight I came home and opened the can to verify. I will take the can and call the 1-800 number back again and give the info.

What's weird is that I know for a fact that I have walked past bottles of cream soda in the grocery store as well as a convenience store that have had clear colored cream soda. I've seen it enough times now that I automatically assumed that they were making a product change. The company, however, insists that this is not the case. So what is the real story behind this clear cream soda?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You know you miss your husband when...

you buy him ice cream even though he's not here and you're not exactly sure when he'll be back.

The power of democracy

According to the unofficial results, only 22% of eligible voters took part in yesterday's plebiscite to decide if Saint John should adopt a mixed ward system. 71% of voters voted Yes. This translates into 15.6% of eligible voters saying Yes to wards, 6.4% voting No, and 78% of eligible voters didn't give a crap. 15.6% of eligible voters just changed the way our whole common council will be elected. Seems like a pretty small number of people changing the direction of municipal politics.

Why didn't more people vote? Was it because it was just a plebiscite? Not enough information about the pros and cons of a ward system? Did that many people really not give a crap? All of the above, likely. There was never really a good examination of the pros/cons of wards. I can only recall pro-ward articles and opinions in the TJ. Very few comments on the cons of a ward system. Perhaps I missed the issue where they gave a fair and balanced examination of the pros and cons...?

Personally, I was against changing to a ward system. I don't think it will be better for the city because I think it will result in even more polarization. When Saint John is finally starting to get momentum, to improve, I would hate to see common council be reduced to bickering amongst different sides of the city. What some voters likely forgot was that Saint John is a very clique-like society -- it's not what you know, it's who you know. If the well-connected councillors are working only for their section of the city, where does that leave the sections with average or below-average councillors? What if one section of the city doesn't have a capable pool from which to draw good councillors? I do see some inherent good in the ward system, but I'm worried that councillors might get bogged down in Mr. Jenkins' broken water pipe and the sidewalk outside Mrs. Thompson's house. Those issues are for the city works department, not necessarily your ward's councillor.

Just because a ward system works for a lot, perhaps the majority, of cities in Canada does not mean it's the answer for Saint John. To those 15.6% of people who changed our municipal landscape, I hope you know what you're doing.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Quick blog post

As for some quick news, I can no longer deny that I have mold in my house. I found evidence tonight. I hope it is contained only to one area. It's the ugly black kind, which is the bad kind, so I will need to get it removed ASAP. I was unrealistically hoping this wouldn't happen, but alas, it has.

Thursday night will be furniture moving night. I have a couple of friends coming over to help move my bedroom furniture to the basement. On Friday morning, the carpet cleaners are coming. I should be able to put the new furniture in the bedroom on Saturday. Having new furniture is going to be like sleeping in a hotel for a while... it will feel strange.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The luck continues...

John emailed this morning telling me that my desktop PC at home was not booting properly and giving blue screen of death.  I really don't need this right now.  I have to go pick it up and bring it into work and get it up & running again.  This wouldn't be so bad normally because I'd be able to use my laptop, but that is also down.  Why now?  I have so much work to do today and I have no idea how I will get it all done.  Back to it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Laptop woes

I had made the decision last week that I would not take my work laptop with me while on my honeymoon and at the conference.  While it is handy to have, it's a big pain to have to take it out of the bag at each airport security checkpoint, not to mention the fact that it's quite heavy for me to have to carry around.  Usually I end up taking it so that I can keep in touch with John when I am travelling, and do an occasional bit of work here and there.  Given that I will be with John the whole time I am away, and can use either his desktop or laptop, I figured I would save myself the hassle and not worry about taking it with me this time.
I turned my laptop on at home last night, and lo and behold I had no display.  It hasn't been working quite right for a while now, and I knew it was a video issue, but it decided to finally kick the bucket last night.  I played around with it for a couple of hours, then decided I would leave it until today and work on it at work.  Today's work tells me that it is a hardware issue, so it's time for warranty repair.
I guess even if I wanted to, I won't be able to take my laptop with me.  A sign that I am not supposed to work on my honeymoon, perhaps.  I could certainly use the vacation, that's for sure.  At least it will be in for repair at a time when it is convenient for me.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bedroom set

This is me, in my bedroom, dated May 1979. I was 3 1/2 years old. As of right now, that nightstand and its matching dresser are in the bedroom of my house, and I use them every day. This means I have been using the same set for 28 years. It's no wonder that sometimes I don't feel like an adult.

Today, I committed to buy a new bedroom set. With John moving here (eventually), we needed something that we both liked and that had more pieces to gain more drawer space. We have similar taste when it comes to this furniture, and we wanted something with a more contemporary design, clean lines, etc. I don't like bedroom furniture with scroll work or detailing; just not my thing. I was invited to a wholesale furniture show along with my Dad, and I saw this set. The design (and price) were winners, so I sent John some pictures. He liked it too, so I told Dad to let the wholesaler know that I wanted to buy it. It's in his stock, so I can probably get it next week. I picked out all of the pieces, with a nightstand for each of us. I'm so excited! Grown-up furniture!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Flight changes... for the better

On the last day of John's July visit, we called Aeroplan and booked his flight to come here for the wedding and return on our honeymoon. The return leg of the flight really stunk (in my opinion), as it meant leaving SJ at suppertime and arriving at LAX at 10:30 Pacific. By the time we would get the shuttle to his apartment, it would be the equivalent of 4am Atlantic. I was not relishing this travel schedule, especially as it meant the next day would basically be a write-off. We are not going to have much time for a honeymoon as it is.

I called Aeroplan again last week, just to see if any seat availability had opened up, but found nothing. The agent stressed to me that I should try in another week. I called back yesterday, and much to my surprise, I was able to change John's flight to leave SJ @ 11:35am and fly into Orange County, landing around midnight Atlantic. Much, much better.

Tonight I booked my own ticket, which also covers the conference I am attending for work. Because we booked the tickets separately, I had to make sure we'd be able to sit together. It's our honeymoon, so sitting together is pretty important. This is also the first time we will have traveled by plane together. I was able to pick seats on the Air Canada segments to be beside him, but our last leg is a United flight from Chicago to Orange County. Aeroplan had told me that I could call them, link our booking references, and then they'd ensure we'd have seats together. Not so when you have a United flight in the mix.

Aeroplan gave me the phone number for United, so I called them up to get myself a seat next to John. Like Aeroplan, United now has a voice recognition system. You have to say the letters/numbers in your booking reference one character at a time, then the automated attendant repeats it back to you. It even suggests you use phrases like "L as in Larry" to assist the process. After 5 very clear attempts to enunciate as much as possible, the stupid system still wasn't getting it. It would get one of the 6 characters wrong, making me start all over again. Finally, it realized I needed an agent and transferred me. The agent was able to understand me quite well, and was able to seat me beside John on our last leg of the trip. I also picked seats for my two United return flights, though the pickin's were slim. I ended up in a window seat from OC to Chicago, so as to avoid being 9 rows even further back. Hope I don't have to pee much. I opted for an aisle seat between Chicago and Toronto, it was only 3 back from my other choice. I prefer the aisle because I often have to go to the bathroom, plus I often end up having to run to make a flight. The aisle is just easier that way.

It still surprises me that I was able to get John's flight changed. Thanks for the break this time. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Custom karaoke cd

My custom karaoke cd just arrived in the mail. It was expensive, but I did get to pick all of the songs on it, which rocked. I can't wait to try it out... I may have to drop by Jenn's house and try it on her machine so I can see the lyric screens. I'm listening to just the music right now, and it seems fairly decent for karaoke.

Buying this cd was a risk, as I basically just found this company online and hoped the versions they were selling were decent. The company is located in SoCal, and have a store in San Bernardino, where John went to college. We'll see how it turns out when I actually get to use it.

I am slightly annoyed at myself for not checking the list over carefully enough before I submitted the order. I missed applying a $5 coupon, and I also managed to add two versions of the same song, so I could have had an extra song on it. Oh well, too late now.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Score one for socks

The week began with having to work on the holiday Monday, after much debate as to whether or not I would have to. Last week I worked my ass off trying to get everything ready for Monday, so I didn't really want it to all go for naught. So Monday I did work, and it seemed to go well at first, but then took a turn for the worse. I ended up staying late, trying to make sure things would be ok for the next day.

Tuesday came, and the first half hour of the day was ok, but then I started to get the phone calls that something was wrong. I spent the morning working out those issues with our support vendor. I was supposed to have gone to Moncton for a meeting, but this problem trumped all, so I had to stay behind. I spent the rest of the week dealing with issues that cropped up due to a software version change that they snuck in without telling me. Wonderful. Things just didn't seem to go according to any plans I had set out for myself this week.

Today, in exchange for some help in putting together Regan's shower, I agreed to take my mother to Calais. I intended on leaving at 8am. I got up about 7:15, figuring I'd wash up, get dressed, eat, and be out the door a bit early. I ended up not quite sure how to dress for the inevitable warmer weather in Calais, so I spent too much time being indecisive about clothing and ended up being late. I pulled into Mum's place, and while she was getting in the car, I noticed my Blackberry flashing at me. A store was down. My co-worker just started his vacation, so I had to handle the issue myself. Since I was just about to head out of town, I called the store and asked if they were having any issues. I specifically asked if they needed their accounts unlocked, as I was just about to head out of town. They said no, we're fine. I left Mum's house and decided it would be a good idea if I took my laptop with me on the road, just in case anyone else called. We finally hit the road at about 8:30. I got as far as Musquash when my cell phone rang -- it was, of course, the store I proactively called to make sure they didn't need my help before getting on the road. I told him to try a spare account I had set up, but it didn't work for some reason. I ended up pulling over, booting up the laptop, connecting with my Blackberry, logging in to work, and unlocking the account. Issue solved.

I pulled back onto the road, got as far as Lepreau, just after where the highway turns back into 2 lanes. All of a sudden there is a deer running across the road in front of the car. I slammed on the breaks. If the deer had stopped in the road, I would have hit it. I was lucky.

We made it the rest of the way uneventfully. The border wasn't backed up too badly. While we were waiting in line, I left Mum in the car and took my laptop to the Canadian border office and got an ownership card for the laptop, just to avoid any potential issues with taking it over the border and back. As I was walking down the street, I went to go get something out of my shopping purse. I grabbed the zipper and it came right off. Took me a few minutes just to be able to get into my purse, great, now that's broken.

When we got up to the border agent for the US, she said, "You know you're trapped here today? The festival is going on." The usually boring "City" of Calais was abuzz with the International Festival, and a parade was going to start in about an hour. That meant lots of traffic issues to try and avoid.

We headed to Mardens first, then a quick stop at the Dollar Store. I took my US bottles & cans to the redemption centre. Then we headed for Wal-Mart. As we were walking in, I commented on how it was getting hotter. The woman ahead of me, who was walking with a limp due to a physical issue of some kind, turned around smiling and agreed with me. We headed on into the store and began shopping. I got to the aisle with kitchen stuff, and was pointing to a cutting board that I had seen last time I was down. It was a large wooden board with a groove in it, probably 1' x 2'. I grabbed one to pull out and show to my mother, and then another board fell out and dropped on my big right toe. It hurt so badly that I thought I was going to have blood gushing or a broken toe. I took my sneaker off to check things out, and then my sock; everything seemed intact and I could wiggle it, so it wasn't broken, but I was in a lot of pain. I got my sneaker back on and kept on going, though now I was limping quite a bit. A few minutes later in the store, we crossed paths with the woman whom we walked in behind... oh God, please don't let her think I'm making fun of or imitating her... I just dropped a cutting board on my foot, that's all!!

Aside: I am not much of one for being a slave to fashion. On a sunny, hot day, most women I know would be wearing bare feet in flip-flops or sandals. Knowing I was going shopping and would be walking, I wore sneakers and socks... well, that's pretty much my norm, to be honest. The point is, had I been wearing bare feet in other shoes, my toe would have gotten broken. Score one for socks.

I carried on shopping, being stubborn and wanting to finish out the day, despite probably needing to keep off my foot and have it elevated. We cleaned out all of the root beer at Wal-Mart, thinking we could get more at the grocery store. When we got to the grocery store, we discovered they didn't have any. The grocery dept clerk said they'd been trying to order it for a while now, but weren't having any luck. Great. To be sure they kept on trying to order it, I stopped at the customer service desk and put in a product request.

We finished the shopping and headed on to McDonalds for lunch. The parade was in the street, but I managed to get around enough back roads to get to McDonalds. We had a good lunch, and I decided I needed a Happy Meal toy because it was a small version of bears from Build-A-Bear Workshop. I had to get the purple bear. Couldn't resist.

Knowing that the parade was going on, and that they were crossing the main border, we headed back to Milltown to cross there. There were signs posted asking people not block driveways. Trying to be considerate, I followed their request. All of a sudden a gold Lincoln pulls up and cuts right in front of me, into the spot I was leaving for the driveway access. I proceeded to honk, shake my fist, give him the finger, and yell at him out my window, which elicited him giving me the finger back. It also likely resulted in my mother thinking I am just like my father, a fire for which she needs no more fuel, but I just handed it to her on a silver platter. She didn't say anything, but I knew that's what she was thinking. I felt pissed off at the guy in front of me and defeated at having lost my cool again so quickly after the Zellers incident last week.

I am apparently a lot more stressed out than I realized. So much so that my body is rebelling and a zillion cold sores decided to pop out overnight last night. Not only do I feel like a mess today, but I also look it. Mum gave me some ointment to attack them with, so hopefully I can get rid of them and try to destress a bit. My parents' wedding pics are marred only by the fact that my Dad had a big cold sore in every picture... I'd prefer not to repeat that visual.

I spent tonight at TotE and I was glad to have some laughs after my rotten day. All of the plays were good and I give kudos to those who wrote and performed. If I didn't socialize very much tonight, it wasn't anything personal -- it was just the end of my very bad day.

Tomorrow, as they say, is another day. Please let it be better than today.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Geosynchronous pork chop

was the subject on a spam I received today. I just thought it was really odd but funny.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Sense of Entitlement

I am growing increasingly frustrated with what seems to be a new disease - a sense of entitlement that appears to motivate people to do and say whatever they please, even if it results in someone else being hurt. When did this become something popular to do? I see it happening more and more often.

This is a free country and we have the right to say and do what we want, when we want, how we want. Why, then, is it fair/acceptable to express oneself and end up hurting people in the process? At times it is inevitable: if your opinions clash with another's, then someone is bound to be hurt. But what about those times where it is not necessary for you to voice your opinion? Opinions are not required 100% of the time, so why can't some people shut their mouths for a few minutes and have some respect for others?

I am finding this scenario particularly frustrating as I plan my wedding. Although I do not have an issue with too many people forcing opinions on me, I have been very cognizant of the fact that I want people to enjoy the day with us. This means, for example, that I can't serve a meal that mainly consists of chinese food because a large portion of the people attending the event may not like chinese. Instead we are serving turkey dinner -- a meal that should appeal to most of our guests. I am not saying "damn the torpedoes" and serving what I like to eat just because it's my wedding, without any consideration for my guests. I think it would be a pretty crappy wedding if all I cared about was myself.

It must be interesting to go through life doing exactly what you want to do and saying what you want to say, and if anyone doesn't like you for it, to hell with them. Do these people ever realize they have hurt someone? Do they have regret?

Dear Jackass at Zellers today

"I don't have to" and "Zellers owns the cart" are not good enough reasons for you to have rudely dumped your cart right in front of me at the checkout line. You walked right by the cart area in the store, yet you were too lazy to take your cart and drop it off as you exited the store. Your brains must have fell out of your head at the same time your hair did. Jackass.

Friday, July 20, 2007


They say rain is good luck on a wedding day, and it is pouring outside, so good luck to Chris & Suzy today.  Your day is finally here!  Enjoy it and relax in the thought that everything you've been planning for can now unfold.  Can't wait to celebrate with you both tomorrow.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


A couple of years ago, I decided to start getting waxed instead of shaving. Not all the time, but before a trip or special occasion. I started out at one of the spas in town, and although I never had any problems, I was finding it to be expensive. On someone's recommendation, I decided to try a shop a little closer to home. The person doing aesthetics there, S, was really good, and I was happy to keep going back and getting work done from her.

About a month ago, S decided to accept a job at a call centre, leaving the world of aesthetics behind. I was disappointed to hear that, especially since she was giving up the business altogether. I decided to give her replacement a try, and I had my first appointment with her Wednesday night. What a mistake that was.

First off, what usually takes 1h took 1.5h. Had I known it would take her significantly longer, I would have booked to come a bit earlier. She started out by using giant strips of cloth and attempting to take it all off at once... not a good idea. Waxing is the same as the band-aid concept: you should remove the cloth as quickly as possible. She hesitated during almost every removal, making the pain worse. She also forgot to apply pressure right after the strip was removed (this helps the pain immediately after removal) and she kept commenting on how she forgot to do it. She dripped wax all over me and the table, making me stick to everything. She applied the wax too thick half the time, making removal difficult. She would use the same strip too many times (mainly because she had too much wax on to begin with). She never seemed to press the strip onto the area with enough pressure or time so the wax would ahere, resulting in repeated treatments to the same area. She pretty much did everything wrong. I'm amazed that I don't look bad from it.

Needless to say, I won't be going back to that particular aesthetician again. The next appointment I will need will be for my wedding, but I don't want to try someone new for that -- I want to make sure it is someone I've used before. I guess I will have to go through my old receipts and try to remember names of the astheticians who worked at the spa and see if they are still there. It will cost me $40 more, but at least I won't be a sticky mess or experience a lot of pain.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Incandescent bulbs are not the devil incarnate

I'm not usually one for being a conspiracy theorist, but frankly, I think we're being fed a lot of bull about CFL lightbulbs. They're touted as "huge energy savers" of $50/year. I'd prefer to pay the extra $50 to get the type of light from an incandescent bulb, if $50 really is a true figure. Supposedly the real savings come from using CFLs in fixtures that are on more than 3h/day. I can't recall a light bulb in my house that stays on for 3h or more per day, especially this time of year when the sun sets shortly after 9pm, in my area of the world. In the winter, yes, I do need more light, but I currently live alone and only have a light on in the room I am using. Often in the winter I am watching TV with the lights off (yes, TV uses more energy than a light bulb, but I'm pointing out that my light bulbs are not on that often). Isn't just shutting your lights off when you don't use them a better plan overall?

I also don't agree with how it was never made clear to the general public that CFL bulbs couldn't be thrown in the trash. I wonder how many bulbs have and will continue to end up in the landfill because people aren't aware of this? To be honest, I have never fully read all of the fine print on a CFL package, and it likely does state that it cannot be thrown in the regular trash, but here's the problem: People Are Stupid. Unless it's in giant letters on the packaging, the average person is not going to read the fine print. In my city, CFL bulbs are treated as hazardous waste and must be dropped off at the landfill. That will not encourage compliance. A lot of people also just plain don't give a crap and will throw the bulbs in the trash, even if they know better. This is happening, and will continue to happen. We can't even get people to properly discard paper coffee cups. What will the effect be of added mercury in our landfills?

I was unimpressed to hear that the Canadian government is planning a ban on incandescent bulbs by 2012. What angers me the most is how that plan restricts my choice. I want the ability to put incandescent bulbs in my house in not necessarily all, but some, locations. The politicians are pushing this as a way that everyone can do their part, as it is a small sacrifice. I don't disagree, and I do have CFL bulbs in my house... but aren't there much bigger issues we can tackle that will do more for the environment than light bulbs? Vehicle emissions is the biggest one that comes to mind, but that would cost the auto makers too much money, and in turn, cost us more for vehicles. There doesn't seem to be a winning situation here.

I don't want to be dictated to as to what type of light bulb I use. I can, and will, find lots of ways to counteract my usage of a few incandescent bulbs. Just don't take away my choice.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

You can't take it with you

Just over a year ago, my grandfather died.  Two years prior to that, my grandmother passed away.  This left their 9 children with a house full of, well, everything.  Over the past year, the executors of the estate have been busy cataloging the items and having them appraised.  Children had first pick of what items they wanted, having it come out of their share of whatever the remainder of the estate will be.  I got an email from the executors today asking grandchildren to pick an item they would like to have as a remembrance of their grandparents, up to an appraised value of $20.
Looking over this list makes me incredibly sad.  I don't want stuff, I want my grandparents back... but I know that's not possible.  How exactly do you pick one item that would encompass a remembrance of two people who were part of my life for all but the last couple of years?  I'm finding the task daunting.  Do I pick an item that is just a remembrance item?  Do I pick something I need for my home but don't already own?  It's been over a year since I was even inside the house, and my memory is fading as to a lot of the items on the list.
Grammy & Grampy were my mother's parents.  I have many fond memories of going to their house with my mother on any given, ordinary day.  I remember the day I lost a tooth in a Wagon Wheel I was eating.  I remember countless times of walking in the back door and seeing Grammy ironing (one of her favorite activities).  They were also the original energy savers.  Grammy used to hang laundry out on the line even in the dead of winter, a habit left over from times when they didn't have as much money and before clothes dryers were around.  I remember many, many family events where their house was the gathering place for all of us.  I've had a lot of sadness lately about how our family doesn't seem to gather as much as we used to, a lot in part I believe to the fact that my grandparents are gone.  Soon their house will also be gone because it is up for sale.
One item I have wanted since Grammy passed away was a cookbook, which is identical to one that my mother has, and contains some family classics.  That is something about which I passed word along through my mother after Grammy died and they started going through her things.  I didn't get the cookbook then, and it is included in a lot of items that currently has one of my aunt's names on it.  I'm hoping they will let me have that one specific book, as I will indeed put it to use.
In the end I decided to ask for things that would be useful to me and that I have some kind of memory of.  I asked for the cookbook as well as a wall barometer that was always in the basement.  I thought that would be nice since I like weather so much.  It's something I can use and think of it as having belonged in their basement in the past.  I also asked if I could purchase a picture from the estate after the picking was done (it was over my allotted dollar amount).  The picture is a photo of the gazebo in King Square in winter.  Grammy loved that particular shot that was included in, I think, a 1982 calendar, and had the picture remain on the wall after the year was over.  Later on someone gave her a framed photo of the same shot.  That photo always hung in the back stairwell, and I have always liked it.  I hope I get the chance to have that as well, if it doesn't get picked by someone else.
There is no "right" or "wrong" choice I am making in picking from this list, but I still question myself on whether or not I missed something.  What would Grammy have wanted me to have?  Is there something I am forgetting that I would like to have?

Friday, July 06, 2007

64 days to go

With life being pretty much work, wedding stuff, sleep, repeat, I haven't had much to discuss. I can't even talk in too much detail about wedding things because I want some things to be a surprise.

Things are coming along, though somewhat tortuously at times. Last night was supposed to be invitation assembly night, but a combination of miscommunication and printer malfunctions basically rendered the evening a write-off. I did manage, between 2 printers and lots of wasted envelopes, to get all of the reply card envelopes printed and stamped. I'm regrouping today, getting some more printing done, and hopefully tonight will be a little more lucky for assembly.

I have a lot accomplished, but still a lot remaining to do. I signed a contract with a photographer today, so that is one more item that is done. Next on the list, after invitations, will be flowers. I don't plan on going too crazy over those. I like flowers, but not enough to spend a pile of money on them. After that, it's going to be list after list of small details. Who drives who where and when and in what car. Take John over to Moores for tux fitting. Assemble favors. Figure out a list of shots that I want the photographer to take.

I put most of my planning on hold this week while I prepared for a wedding shower that I am hosting on Sunday. I didn't have much notice to pull it together, but I think I've got things under control. My mom was a big help in finding stuff for me, since I have to work and can't shop during the day. She is also going to make shortbreads for me to serve as well. I need to spend tomorrow fine-tuning the games that I am going to run, as well as wrapping the prizes and cleaning the house as best I can. It's always stressful cleaning the house when you know a bunch of unknown women are coming over.

That's pretty much my life at the moment. It seems like this week has been a regular length with all that has gone on. I did manage to get a better sleep last night and don't feel quite as much like a zombie today. I am also getting a few things cleared off my work to-do list, and that's making me feel a bit better. I won't have much time to rest this weekend, though, and that is a concern. I need all the rest I can get these days.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Still the same

I'm tired.  Tired of trying to be proactive about things and still ending up behind the 8 ball.  Tired of trying to improve myself and my processes, but since other processes aren't in place, it's pretty much a moot point.  Wil things ever change?

Friday, June 29, 2007


I am not a girl who likes to make decisions. I'm a Libra, and Libras are known for indecisiveness. I constantly question myself about which decision is the right one, and after I've made a decision, I constantly question whether I have made the correct choice.

2007 so far has been a year of decisions. Decisions about getting a civil marriage license, decisions about my car, and lately, decisions about our church wedding. It's halfway through the year, and already I am decisioned-out. There are some other major decisions I know I am going to have to make in the near future, but I've reached my limit and have decided to put those off for now, to save my sanity.

I envy how easily my husband can make decisions. He makes them, and if they are the wrong ones, he deals with the consequences. He doesn't constantly worry about possible outcomes; he just lets things happen and deals with them as they occur. I wish I could adopt some of that view, but after 31 years of being the way I am, I'm not sure I can change.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Washington tour

My flight to DC included a very rude woman sitting in front of me. She absolutely could not live without having her purse under the seat, despite that being against the rules as you are supposed to put your carry on under the seat in front of you. Since she was in row 1, there was no seat in front of her. She was told by the flight attendant not to leave her purse lying on the empty seat beside her, so her solution was to take up the space under the seat, leaving the lady beside me with not much room to place her bag. I argued with the old hag and she refused to put her purse up in the overhead bin. Finally I suggested she not pick row 1 in the future. I almost took her purse and snuck it behind another seat to teach her a lesson, but I'm not that much of a mean bitch. I don't know why she was so obsessed about it, I certainly wouldn't trust people behind me not to go through my stuff, but I'd notice if the overhead bin right above my head was open. Anyway, she was an old rude hag who refused to follow the rules. I hate it when people make their own rules, especially when flying. We all have limited space... stick to yours.

I arrived and got a cab with a crazy cab driver who tried to sell me his poetry book. He also had this habit of repeating what he was saying at least 10 times... after a while I was thinking, buddy, get over the fact that my jacket matches my suitcase. He kept going on and on about how his eyes popped out when he saw I was color co-ordinated. The kicker was when I got out my wallet, which is also pink. He really flipped then. Didn't have the energy to tell him my favorite color was actually purple.

The hotel cost a fortune even after the deal our supplier worked out for the meeting attendees. It was the Grand Washington Hyatt in downtown DC, so I didn't expect it to be cheap, but I did expect my tub to drain and the electrical outlets to work. I wasn't impressed in the least.

I spent Thursday afternoon touring around DC. I opted to take a trolley tour, where I could hop on & off for the day. I got to see the main highlights, so I think I did pretty well for not having much time there. I've put some pics below. I think the highlight for me was the Lincoln Memorial. It was just really impressive. I saw it during the day and evening, and it was equally as impressive. I also made a stop at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and while there I bought an activity set of rocks for my nephew for his birthday.

Thursday night our meeting group met for dinner at Jaleo, a tapas restaurant. If you have never heard of a tapas restaurant (I hadn't), it's basically a bunch of small Spanish dishes served as a meal. Sort of like ordering a whole bunch of appetizers and sharing amongst everyone at the table. I really liked the concept, but I wasn't much of a fan of authentic Spanish food. I did try a bunch of things, but it's not something I am likely to try again without looking over the menu first.

To be honest, I didn't think I was going to like Washington, but I did. There is so much to see and do, you need at least a week to get through things of interest. I would like to go back some day, with John, and get to more of the museums and revisit the memorials. I expected it to be stinkin' hot, but I was told it was two of the coldest days they'd had in a while. It actually ended up being comfortable for touring around, so it worked out well.

I had lunch here on my first day. They only serve burgers and fries, and always use fresh ground beef. It was pretty good. I read a comment from someone who called it the In-N-Out Burger of the East Coast. I will have to compare. Had lunch with guys in suits wearing backpacks. Expected to see Bradley Whitford with them; felt like I was on lunchbreak in an episode of The West Wing. :)

Chinese Subway and, what I thought was very odd, a Chinese Texan BBQ???


I didn't expect to see one of these in a downtown area, let alone in Chinatown.

Capitol Hill

Lincoln Memorial

Gettysburg Address

Lincoln Memorial

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool as seen from Lincoln Memorial

Vietnam Wall

Vietnam Wall

Vietnam Wall

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Washington Monument

The closest I got to the White House

The Hope Diamond

Easter Island head. Easter Island heads rock! :P

WWII Memorial at night

Lincoln at night

Korean War Memorial

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I arrived in Montreal a little bit early. Good thing as I don't have much time to make my connection. Since I am flying into Reagan National, I also have to go through an extra security screening. Hopefully not a body cavity search. :P

They have a St. Hubert Express in the food court at the airport now. Nice to have another option for eating here.

Stupid security checker *threw* my sneakers into the scanner. Thanks, asshole.

The extra DCsecurity check included personal wanding and looking through the bag. No biggie.

At least it's light out

I know why I picked this early morning flight - it was because I would get to Washington, DC early enough to do a few touristy things. I have to admit though that I was tempted to change my flight yesterday so I wouldn't have to leave so early.

I am not crazy about the fact that DC is a high crime area. I am usually a smart traveler, but being a small blonde woman walking around by myself, I'm not exactly at low risk. I think once I land and get settled at the hotel, I will seek out a guided tour. That way I am not walking around alone, and will likely see more than just wandering around by myself, trying to find things.

I haven't been looking forward to this trip. I don't get much out of traveling alone to somewhere I've never been that is known for its high crime rate. I'm only gone 2 days though, and will be back home again by suppertime on Saturday.

I am kicking myself now though for not following through on my plan to stop in Toronto overnight tomorrow night and go to my shoe store on Saturday morning. I just don't agree with my flight choices this time.

Time to board...

Monday, June 11, 2007

More progress

I called the Union Club today and confirmed that I wanted to use it as our wedding reception venue. I need to drop off a deposit, hopefully I will have time to do that tomorrow as I forgot to take my chequebook with me today. I told the venue what we had decided on for a meal. All that remains are to buy some candles and decide on some smaller aspects regarding timing of events at the venue.

I confirmed with my priest today that we had picked 11am as the time of day for the wedding. I don't remember us confirming that, so I figured it would be a good idea. :)

I ordered the favors tonight. I insisted on going with edible favors, and I think they will be familiar and yet unique.

I didn't have as much luck with shoes. The ones I was eyeing are out of stock in my hard-to-find size. As if finding 8.5 AAAA shoes isn't hard enough, trying to find a wedding-appropriate shoe isn't any easier.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wedding planning a go-go

I've been pretty busy. I've started wading through the world of wedding planning. Today was a particularly disappointing day because my reception venue turned me down for the sake of lost profits. I am now in search of a new venue that can hold 100 people for a sit-down lunch.

I was in Portland this past weekend and found a dress. I didn't have to compromise on what I wanted, and the price was fabulous. It just needs a few alterations and I'll be all set. I've asked Jenn to be my matron of honor, so we found her a dress as well and got a discount for buying the two both at David's Bridal. We had to order it and will go back down to Portland some time in the next month or two to pick it up.

Portland also yielded a lot of deals on clothes. Target was crammed full of clearance racks so I picked up a few things there. Also got in on a store closing sale of New York & Company so I picked up a few more things there. It was a good trip, and the exemption increase to $400 for 48h certainly helped out considering I had a wedding dress to bring back.

The new car is working well. I had it in the body shop yesterday to get the paint scratches taken care of. They gave me a rental overnight and I got my car back today at lunchtime. I was glad to have it back today though. A Kia Spectra is not the same as a Grand Prix. This car does have a larger gas tank, so it's taking a lot more each time I fill up.

That's really all that is up with me at the moment. Wedding planning has basically taken over since it's a mere 3 months away. Planning something that requires a lot of decision-making is not easy for someone who can't seem to make a decision. I wonder if having to do this in a tight time frame will help me get any better at it? Who knows. The civil wedding certainly had the ease factor, I'll give it that. Things are starting to come together though, and I am staying positive that I'll be able to find a new reception venue.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Car Pics

New car. Color is "Purple Haze", but seems to look black here. You can tell better when you're standing beside it.

Rear doors open 90°. That can come in handy.

Huge gauges on the dash. Won't be able to ignore how fast I'm going.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Car search is over

After much mental debate and test driving 3 different models, I've finally made a car decision. Tomorrow I will be picking up my new car: a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix. It's actually very similar to what I have now, which is probably why I like it. The visibility was much better in this car, plus it has a in-dash 6 cd changer, XM satellite radio (free for 3 months), OnStar (free for a year), remote car starter (great for coming out of work in winter). I also decided to put an extra year of warranty on it so that I am covered for all of the 4 year period of my lease. It raised my payment, but I am likely to need more work done on it as time goes on.

As for the color... it's the return of the Purple Car. :)

I'll post some pics this weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Muppet Show - Season 2

will be out on DVD August 7th. Click here for details.

Car search update

The car search has been interesting. Not as easy a time as I thought it would be.

Last Thursday, I test drove the Pontiac G6 GT, basically the equivalent offering from Pontiac of my older Grand Am GT. I figured I was going to like this car, and I did, but I didn’t love it. I have a few issues with the seats, the steering wheel position, and where to lean my arm while I drive. Minor, but I found it a bit annoying, and those things can gnaw at you over time. I will likely be doing another 4 year lease, so I want to make sure I like what I’m getting.

On John’s advice to test drive at least one other car, I went back to Saturn and test drove the Aura XR. Nice car, but again, I didn’t love it. It is not as sporty as the G6, but it did have some extra options and functions. Unfortunately, the XR model is a higher price and a bit more than I wanted to spend. Since I didn’t “love” the car, I am not really willing to spend extra money on it. I can afford the XE model, and add a few more options to get it closer to where I wanted it to be. I need to actually drive the XE model to feel the differences though, so I will probably go back to Saturn and try and drive something closer to what I would actually get.

I am also going to take a Grand Prix out for a test drive. I’m not sure I’m all that serious about it, but it will give me a different driving experience and hopefully help me to nail down what I do and don’t like or want to sacrifice.

I’m arranging to take a used G6 home for a couple of days (hopefully over the long weekend) and truly test it in real-world conditions. That should be enough time for me to get a true feel for it.

The pickiness and issues are surfacing mainly because I really like my current car. I liked it so much that I leased it two times in a row. After 7 years with the same car, I’m comfortable with it. I know where everything is, how it handles, and it just fits me. I can’t tell if the issues I’m having with these new cars are because I am change-resistant and comfortable with 7 years of the Grand Am, or if I truly don’t like the features of the new cars. That’s the question I need to answer. Hopefully test driving a couple more cars and having the G6 for a few days will help me figure that out.

Jim Emerson's 102 Movies to Become Movie Literate

Stolen from Chris. Numbered movies are the ones I have seen.

2001: A Space Odyssey
The 400 Blows
8 1/2
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
1. All About Eve
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
2. Bambi
The Battleship Potemkin
Blue Velvet
Bonnie and Clyde
3. Bringing Up Baby
4. Casablanca
Un Chien Andalou
Children of Paradise
5. Chinatown
6. Citizen Kane
7. A Clockwork Orange
8. The Crying Game
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Days of Heaven
9. Dirty Harry
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
10. Do the Right Thing
La Dolce Vita
11. Double Indemnity
Dr. Strangelove
Duck Soup
12. E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial
Easy Rider
13. The Empire Strikes Back
The Exorcist
14. Fargo
15. Fight Club
The General
16. The Godfather
17. The Godfather, Part 2
18. Gone With the Wind
19. Goodfellas
20. The Graduate
A Hard Day's Night
It's a Gift
21. It's a Wonderful Life
22. Jaws
The Lady Eve
Lawrence of Arabia
Mad Max 2
23. The Maltese Falcon
24. The Manchurian Candidate
Modern Times
25. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Night of the Hunter
Night of the Living Dead
26. North by Northwest
On the Waterfront
Once Upon a Time in the West
Out of the Past
Pink Flamingos
27. Psycho
28. Pulp Fiction
29. Rear Window
30. Rebel Without a Cause
Red River
The Rules of the Game
The Scarlet Empress
31. Schindler's List
The Searchers
The Seven Samurai
32. Singin' in the Rain
33. Some Like It Hot
A Star Is Born
A Streetcar Named Desire
34. Sunset Boulevard
35. Taxi Driver
The Third Man
Tokyo Story
Touch of Evil
36. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Trouble in Paradise
37. Vertigo
38. West Side Story
The Wild Bunch
39. The Wizard of Oz

A few glaring omissions there in what I haven't seen.