"Look, all I'm saying is, if these big stars didn't want people going through their garbage and saying they're gay, then they shouldn't have tried to express themselves creatively."
-- Homer Simpson

Leaving New York never easy

On our last day of sightseeing yesterday, we did a quick stop by Carnegie Hall, followed by visits to the American Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim Museum. Pictures are below:

Afterwards, we headed back to our apartment to drop off the souvenirs we’d gathered, and then finally had dinner at the Feast of San Gennaro, which has been running outside our windows all week.

We’re packing up this morning to head back to the Great White North (which is apparently going to be the Great Rainy North this evening). It’s been an unbelievable week here in New York…I’m sad to go, but at the same time I’m glad that I’ll get a chance to rest… :-)


I want to be a part of it

Yesterday was our day to start seeing some of the big museums. We spent a couple of hours at the Met (and could have spent a couple of days), and then headed over to the Museum Of Modern Art (MOMA). On the way to MOMA, we had a bit of a treat…the streets were all blocked up for President Obama’s motorcade (I assume heading out from the UN).

Pictures of the museums and the motorcade, followed by some quick visits to the New York Public Library and Grand Central Terminal are below:

Afterwards, we headed off to see an Off-Broadway production of Avenue Q. I always pictured “Off-Broadway” as being somewhat at a distance from Broadway…but we were only a block away from the Gershwin Theatre that we had been at the night before (which is considered a Broadway theatre). The difference actually seems to be the size of the theatres and the cost of the productions.

Anyway, one more day of sightseeing…this week has been a blur and a blast, but I am one tired tourist! :-)


Concrete jungle where dreams are made of

We made it a bit of a slower day yesterday, mainly because our legs were so sore…oh yeah, and because we had tickets for a Broadway show in the evening!

We started off the day at the New York City Police Museum, learning about the history of the NYPD and in particular about all the changes that have been made since 9/11. Next, we went to the Seaport Museum, which is actually a 12-block area around Piers 16 & 17 (between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges). Pictures below are from these stops:

From there, we headed back towards our apartment, with a few stops on Canal St. for some shopping…but really this is where Kamelot would have been in heaven. For me, it was just an opportunity to pick up a few souvenirs for the folks back home.

After a short stop to rest up and change for the evening, we headed out for our dinner reservations…and managed to head the wrong direction on the subway (for the record, our first subway mishap of the week). This resulted in taking the N train across the Manhattan Bridge, with a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge, so we weren’t all that upset about it. We were a little late for our reservation, but they still had our table for us, so it all worked out. We had a fantastic meal at Plataforma Churrascaria, a Brazilian barbeque near Broadway.

We ended the evening seeing Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre, which was quite spectacular. I’ve seen it at the NAC in Ottawa, but somehow the Broadway version was just a little bigger… :-)


Right through the very heart of it

On Tuesday, we started off by going back to Rockefeller Center and taking the NBC studio tour. I don’t have any pictures of that, as we’re not allowed to take pictures on the tour. It was interesting to see the studios (the Saturday Night Live studio is tiny!), but if you’ve watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip or even 30 Rock, there wasn’t much new information about how television is made.

We then went to the Top of the Rock (the observation level of Rockefeller Center), followed by more bus tours. Those I have pictures of:

We ended the day with a visit to the World Trade Center site, but I don’t have any pictures of that…there really isn’t anything to see yet. The whole area is fenced off while they build the WTC Memorial Park. There’s a little preview site, where they have videos running talking about 9/11, and it really brings back all the emotions of that day. Standing there, you get the smallest sense of how this horrible thing we all saw happen on TV affected the people who live and work here.

After that, we made our way back to our neighbourhood and found a nice little Vietnamese restaurant with fantastic food…a great way to end the day!


First we take Manhattan

OK, 12-hour stretches of wandering around New York are definitely taking their toll on my feet…we might need to slow things down a bit if I’m going to last all week… :-)

Yesterday, we took a boat over to Ellis Island and had a look around. It was amazing to think of the 12 million people who came through that facility in the years that it was actively used as an immigration processing center. After that, we took another bus tour. Looks like we won’t be able to see the United Nations building on this trip…the security is pretty high for the UN General Assembly, so all tours are cancelled. Also, there are protestors galore out there, so I’m not too keen on getting anywhere close to that mess.

Here are some pictures of Ellis Island, various sights from the bus tour, and then Central Park:

Afterwards, we made our way to the Empire State Building, making sure to get to the top after dark to get some spectacular views of the city:


These vagabond shoes

Well, the first real day of the vacation (i.e. the one not spent getting here) was a lot of fun. We did three major things yesterday, shown in the three galleries below.

First off, we took a brunch cruise around Manhattan, also running by Ellis and Liberty Islands.

Next, we stopped by the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Finally, we took a bus tour through parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn (one of three tours we’re planning). It got dark during this tour, so not quite as many pictures.

Today, we’ve got more bus tours planned, and we’re probably going to try and get up the Empire State Building tonight. So I should have more cool pictures tomorrow! :-)


No place that I’d rather be

So I’m in Manhattan this morning. My mother and I have been talking about coming to New York for a proper sightseeing visit for a while, and we decided this year to go for it. We’ve been to New York a couple of times before, but they were very impromptu visits of only a day or two. This time, we’re staying for a whole week to get a proper feel for the Big Apple.

We drove down from the Great White North yesterday (which is actually starting to become a little multi-coloured, with the leaves beginning their fall display). It was a bit of a long drive, but we got through it fine. Going across the border, I experienced my most thorough examination yet, although it still only entailed a few minutes of questions (I’ve never had the full-bore experience of a border inquisition, for which I may thank some sort of deity). The US border guy asked many questions, often repeating the same questions in different forms to see if he could trip us up in a lie. One sticking point was that I was born in Philadelphia, which made him assume I was a US citizen living in Canada. I had to explain that I only spent my first three weeks of life in the good ‘ole US of A before I made the informed decision of leaving for colder pastures… :-)

Crossing into Manhattan was a bit of an ordeal…the path given to us by the all-powerful Google Maps was to go through the Holland Tunnel, and the line-up to get in was something to see. Of course, we were arriving at around 9:30 on a Saturday night, which I’m told is a popular time to be trying to get into Manhattan…at any rate, we eventually made it, but not after I was cursing many people who were using various tactics to skip ahead in line. Curiously, the Holland Tunnel only has two lanes, but there were fully nine lanes of cars leading up to the entrance…it’s almost like they wanted to design in some guaranteed traffic jams.

Rather than booking a hotel in Manhattan for the week, we’ve rented a two-bedroom apartment…it ends up being cheaper than trying to find a couple of hotel rooms (much cheaper, actually), and we have the benefit of a full kitchen while we’re here. Of course, what we didn’t know about is that the Mulberry Street apartment we’ve rented in Little Italy is right over what is now the Feast of San Gennaro, which will be going on during our entire trip. The feast itself is something to see, but it’s also quite crowded and noisy when you’re trying to get home (there are flashing neon lights literally right outside our bedroom windows). Parking during the Feast is also somewhat challenging, but we’ve found a lot and we’re probably just going to leave the car there for the week. They close down the hullabaloo by about 1am, so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s definitely going to add a twist to our comings and goings this week.

To start off the week, I’ve taken a few pictures of our apartment…I’m sure there’ll be many more pics to come! :-)


Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty

OK, once again, it’s been forever since I posted. I had some thoughts to lay down in bytes, so I thought I’d wander over here and do so. And while thinking about that, I decided to get the blog software up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress, and try out a new look-and-feel…like the new colours?

Ottawa Downtown Most of the folks who might possibly read this blog already know that I’ve been living in Ottawa’s centretown for the last few months. While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the re-discovery of hassle-free apartment life after years of being perpetually behind with home maintenance, being right downtown is definitely starting to wear on me. For anyone pondering a life in the core of the city that sleeps at a reasonable hour, here is what I’ve learned:

  • From Bronson to the Canal and the 417 to Parliament Hill, every outdoor breath you take is filled with cigarette smoke, and the density increases exponentially as you approach any building entrance
  • Many, many people don’t know that you can turn left on a red light at an intersection of two one-way streets (not that this is documented anywhere, mind you) and these individuals become quite agitated if you honk at them
  • When driving across a one-way street, you need only check for oncoming traffic in one direction…and it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone which direction they check
  • During periods of heavy traffic, it is perfectly acceptable to advance into an already-blocked intersection (of course, why would people think otherwise), and if someone ahead of you does not do so, you should honk at them and throw a hairy fit
  • Making a left turn from the right lane with no notice whatsoever is fine if you really, really need to get somewhere
  • On a small street with no lane markers, the most sensible thing to do is stick to the middle, so that those other annoying cars on the road can’t sneak past you
  • The superhero moniker used for parking cops is completely inappropriate…they are much more like the Flash than the Green Hornet
  • The prevalence of Starbucks franchises (seemingly on every corner) is completely understandable once you attempt to buy a latte during regular business hours
  • Despite the many thousands of cars that enter and exit centretown every day, there isn’t a drive-through coffee shop or restaurant to be found, and this phenomenon extends for kilometres in every direction

Hopefully, this accumulated body of knowledge will be helpful to someone out there… :-)



"Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty" is from Downtown by Petula Clark, which I chose for the obvious reference to the main subject of my post. I've been enjoying the usage of this song as Juliet's theme on Lost.

I kept my head down and moved on

Yup, I’m back again at long last. It’s been a pretty brutal few months, with typical work weeks of 80 hours or more, so I’ve been absent from the blog as well as pretty much every other form of human interaction. (hmmm, is the blog a form of human interaction? An interesting topic for another day…)

I have to say, I’m not entirely sure why I do this to myself. On the one hand, I do love my job–I find it mentally rewarding and intellectually challenging, and it feeds my need to design elegant solutions to complicated problems. This particular need of mine should be familiar to those who have heard my multitudinous rants about the various governmental or societal organizations that could be more efficiently implemented or managed (always in my opinion, of course). Building the infrastructure and toolset for common process and product measurement and analysis at the Evil Corporation where I work may sound like the height of geekitude (ok, it is), but it does present some very intriguing problems to solve.

However, there is that other hand that I seem to keep ignoring. There’s no way around it, the Evil Corporation I work for is, well, evil. It isn’t like I’ve ever had aspirations of leading the revolution, but despite my oft-voiced protestations of Matrix-ian philosophy (everything begins with choice), there’s just no denying that I work for the man.

So where does that leave me? Well, it’s quite possible that I’m doomed to repeat this cycle of complete immersion in work followed by brief periods of sanity during which I rebuild all of my ignored relationships…and clean my house. But maybe there’s hope that at some point I’ll disregard the Architect’s analysis of the choices before me and dive for the door on the right… :-)


Cause when the feelin’s right I’m gonna run all night

I decided to close off my weekend yesterday with a visit to the gym, egged on somewhat by my mother (she can be very nagging inspirational when she wants to be). However, it turns out that when you don’t exercise for over a year, and then hit the gym, pain is the result. The gym has been absent from my routine long enough that I apparently needed a reminder of this phenomenon.

Of course, idiot that I am (remember the name of this site?), I returned this morning for more punishment. The best part about working out in the morning is that it’s followed closely by several hours of sitting at a desk at work. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of standing up from your desk around 11 am after a 6 am run… :-)

And then, after all that, I came home tonight to the daunting task of clearing my 70-foot driveway as a result of winter finally arriving. Thankfully, the 20 or so centimetres of snow was mostly powder, so it wasn’t too heavy, but my legs are just about ready to fall off now.

The goal is to hit the gym again tomorrow…we’ll see what happens when the alarm goes off at 5:15… :-)


It affects your occupational performance

Ugh…this returning to work thing after almost 3 weeks off is pretty painful. I’ve never actually taken so much time off work at once (in the almost-fourteen years of employment at the Evil Corporation), and now I can see why — the return is almost as painful as the before-vacation stress!

The amusing thing is that, while I had no problem getting up early last week (when I had a full schedule of sitting on my ass), I’m having issues getting up early now. I think my brain is revolting at the idea of returning to work… :-)

Anyway…for the Joss Whedon fans in withdrawal, I was surprised to find a well-written fan fiction site recently. The unofficial Angel Season Six is well worth reading. I think the writers have captured the voices of the characters very well, and the storyline is very reminiscent of Seasons 2 through 4 (and the better parts of Season 4, at that). I’m only at the fifth episode, but so far none of the characters are having inappropriate sexual relations:-)


Easy now as un deux trois

After a day and a half in Paris, my legs are actually still working…maybe this is my first step to getting back in shape! :-)

We started the day off by taking the Metro down to the Louvre (which is closed today and tomorrow), and walking through the Jardin des Tuileries and down the Champs Elysees to l’Arc de Triomphe…a somewhat long walk, but an amazing one! It’s phenomenal to think about all of the armies, monarchs, and everyday folks that have done that same walk over the centuries…

I seem to be the only one on this trip that’s managed to stay healthy…the rest of the fam is suffering from various degrees of a cold. Happy Phantom is blaming the vents on the plane for stirring up the viral soup, but I think it has more to do with the jet lag than anything else. I remain immune, happy to say…and trying not to burst into song… :-)


These so-called vacations will soon be my death

OK, one thing I forgot to mention yesterday (because I was posting in the evening) is that coffee shops in this country don’t seem to understand the concept of “extra large”. I’m having serious issues getting going in the morning when I have to buy several piddly-ass cups just to get my fix! :-)

I don’t know how this country functions without a pail of caffeine every morning…oh well, I’ve gotta go now…time to find my next latte…


Quit holding out and draw another breath

Well, it’s been 36 hours in London now, and so far the trip has been pretty awesome! (oh yeah, in case you didn’t know, I’m in London with the fam right now…)

This is my first time across the pond, so there have been many differences to take note of…but, as John Travolta once said: “it’s the little differences,” such as:

  • pulp in orange juice is referred to as “bits”
  • getting a coffee to go or take-out food is referred to as “take away” (as I was snootily reminded earlier tonight)
  • Exit signs are nowhere to be seen, but the “Way Out” is always clearly marked

We hit the National Gallery today, and did a walking tour around the Thames by the Westminster and Victoria embankments. On the list for tomorrow is the British Museum (thanks BirdLady!) and the Tower of London. Then, on Sunday, we hop the train to head over to Paris.

The really good news is that our budget travel-tour flight brought us into Gatwick airport, which allowed us to avoid the “killer fog” that stranded 75000 travellers at Heathrow yesterday.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll find time to post from gay Paris (no, Grabber, I’m not…), but for now my fingers are getting tired from this crappy Internet terminal keyboard… :-)

Merry Xmas, everyone!


So it seems I must have won

I didn’t get a chance to post about this last week, but Ottawa’s mayoral race resulted in a bit of a surprise for most of our crowd…I’m pretty sure all of us had pegged it as a showdown between Munter (the pinko lefty) and Chiarelli (the populist middle-of-the-road guy). When the big-business right-wing guy took the race, I guess we all got a reminder that Ottawa tends to be a reasonably conservative town…something that may have been masked in the last decade by the growing geek quadrant that has been somewhat stifled in recent years.

Also last weekend, the boat came out of the water. BogMan and I got out for one last (and very cold) sail on the Friday before taking the batteries out (well, actually, he took the batteries out by climbing under the cockpit again…I just directed from above). Then on Saturday, Righteous Guy joined BogMan and I in lowering the mast, while The Grabber and SMC watched from a safe distance. Then, finally, on Sunday, BogMan and I pulled the boat out of the water (with the help of one of the sailing club service providers), and wrapped it up like a big blue enchilada. Only six more months before the next sailing season… :-(

Last but not least, BNL has provided another song for the soundtrack of my life. This one hasn’t bumped the already-established theme song, but it’s definitely on the “Songs About and Inspired By” CD… :-)


Oh no I’ve said too much

For the first time in my life, I’ve managed to come down with a case of laryngitis. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Dr. Grabber has informed that it is indeed viral, so I just have to suffer through it…

It came on pretty quick…I’ve had a cold for most of the last week, provided quite helpfully by our little Typhoid Mary of the group. Then, yesterday my voice just started disappearing in the afternoon. I went from discussing the issues over breakkie (by which I mean making silly noises with little miss SMP) to no voice by the evening.

I’m finding this not being able to talk thing quite disruptive to my life. Teleconferences at work are of course out of the question, as are my frequent rants about executive management, interspersed with the occasional vitriolic diatribe over the state of the Canadian political landscape. Take those away, and what’s the point of even leaving the house in the morning? :-)

Oh, one note for the bloggers…I’ve added a new Comment Policy on the blog, primarily so that I can make commenters have to check a little box that they’ve read the comment policy before submitting a comment. This only will be required if you haven’t logged into the blog (for those who have an account), but be sure to check the box if it’s there–otherwise, your comment will be lost. I’m hoping that this will reduce the comment spam a little…I’ve had over five thousand spam comments in the last ten days, so I wanted to take an extra step against it.


I am not a beautiful or unique snowflake

OK, this is me trying to make a re-appearance on the blog, after being absent for so much of this year. Yes, work has indeed taken over my life, and I’m now trying to fight back…viva la revolution!

Here’s a summary of what this year has been about for me:

  • Re-discovering my dedication to work, after years of dismissing the management of the Evil Corporation where I’m employed as self-serving, dishonest power-mongers
  • Missing out on what little ski season there was
  • Deciding that the time had come to buy a sailboat
  • Buying a sailboat, and paying through the nose to have it hauled halfway across the province
  • Straining all of my relationships with family and friends through continued (and continuing) lack of contact
  • After months of long days (and nights) trying to get the “right thing” done at work, being told (indirectly) that meeting the unrealistic schedule was far more important than doing a good job
  • Enjoying this new show called “Grey’s Anatomy” that Kamelot keeps telling me about (on DVD, of course)
  • Moving into a new corporate metrics role to help shape an infrastructure for management integrity
  • Not touching the yard or the deck that took up so much of my energy last year, nor finishing the entrances that I started so late last year
  • Making BogMan climb under the cockpit of my boat multiple times (to install batteries and a motor bracket)
  • Watching little miss SMP grow up way too fast
  • Missing out on the cycling season
  • After months of long days (and nights) trying to implement high-quality process measurement tools, being told (directly) that meeting the unrealistic schedule was mandatory, but I still had to do a good job
  • Realizing I’ve missed out on much of the sailing season
  • Re-discovering my disillusionment with work, after months spent re-affirming that the management of the Evil Corporation where I’m employed are self-serving, dishonest power-mongers

I’ve taken this week off (after two other failed attempts at taking vacation) to try and reconstruct my life…I’ll let you know how it goes. However, the time off has let me finally get around to upgrading the base software for the blog to the latest version of WordPress, which means more automated filtering of all the freaking comment spam…woo-hoo!

(BTW, it never ceases to amaze me how much internet bandwidth is taken up by various forms of spam…I have to delete literally hundreds of spam comments every week.)

Anyway, now I’m just rambling, so it’s time to get back to my housecleaning, er, I mean vacation… :-)


I noticed every Tom, Dick and Harry really liked “Blue Sun”…

Sadly, I won’t be purchasing the cute little Viking 22 I’ve been looking at. I had a marine survey done, and there are significant structural problems with the boat that would be muchos dolares to fix.

The good news is that it’s spring, and everyone’s listing their boats for sale, so I’m still hunting for that opportunity to have a little slice of heaven on the river… :-)

I’m a little stiff and sore this morning…after a long week of 17-hour work days, I decided to take a nap after work yesterday…I went to sleep at 4pm, and then woke up about half an hour ago. 14 hours of sleep has left me a little fuzzy-headed, but I’m definitely better rested now!


Is “Serenity” too geeky a name?

I haven’t been around much lately. Work has lately been my life, but I do occasionally find time to stop for food and sometimes even sleep!

My current big news, though, is that I might be buying a boat! After watching the for-sale pages and listings for a year and a half, the little gem to the right showed up this weekend. It’s a Viking 22, which is very much a day-sailor masquerading as a yacht. It has a large cockpit and a small cabin, which is pretty much what I was looking for in a starter boat. I’m giving up on the goals of wheel steering and an inboard engine, but that was pretty much a pipe dream in my price range anyway… :-)

The current owner is a gent in his 70s who’s retired and isn’t going to be sailing anymore. I’m getting a marine survey done later this week, and assuming there aren’t any big surprises, I should own the thing within a couple of weeks…and then I just have to figure out how to get it here from Southern Ontario.

More info to come!


Dressed up like a million dollar trouper

Although this weekend was quite work-filled for me, I managed to join the gang down at the Canal Ritz for Homewrecker’s birthday festivities. Other than that, though, I have to say this whole being re-dedicated to work thing is really chewing into my spare time… :-)

In what little free time I have, I’ve been very frustrated with the weather lately…the unbelievably atypical Ottawa winter is not providing a whole lot of opportunity for outdoor activities. I’m still signed up for the 29km Keskinada, but at the rate I’m going, there’s no way I’ll be ready.

Oh well, enough griping. Leonard Lee (of Lee Valley) is apparently having quite a spat with Canada Post. This isn’t the first time that issues have arisen with taxpayer-funded corporations — I remember a few years ago that the various privately-held Canadian television networks were complaining that the CBC was airing programming without any commercial breaks, something that the private networks were unable to do without suffering a huge loss (I wish I could find a link to a news story about this, but Google has surprisingly failed me in this regard).

If I was better rested, I’d probably rant about the use of public funds to undercut or otherwise aggressively compete with private sector business. However, I think I’ll just go to bed instead… :-)


Saw it through without exemption

Check out the entrance roofing log for a major milestone — the roofing over the front entrance is now in place! Many, many heartfelt thanks go to BogMan, Righteous Guy, Deuce and Digger for coming over for a lot of heavy lifting in the freezing cold. Also, thanks to The Grabber for coming by to act as our medical support, in case of crushed heads or broken bodies… :-)

Now I just need to do the shingles, finish the decking on the porch and put in a railing, and I’ll be done (until spring)!


Suddenly the day turns into night

Well, I’m in Peterpatch for Turkey Weekend, having driven down early yesterday morning. Everyone’s still asleep right now, so I thought I’d get caught up on posting some pictures I meant to put up earlier this week. I went for a visit with The Grabber and Righteous Guy a few days ago, and brought my camera along…The Grabber managed to steal it away and took a bazillion pictures. I’ve made the best of them available here.

I had taken Friday off to work on the deck, but the weather stymied me yet again…instead, I got a bit of work done on the yard, in between the showers. Saturday turned out to be a much nicer day, so I managed to get a little further on the deck. Only 65 joists to go! :-|


You say you want a renovation

While I’ve been making progress on the deck these last few days, I hit a bit of a snag this weekend. I’ve known that the roofing over my entrances have needed replacing for some time now, but on Friday night the roof over the front entrance decided to become somewhat support-challenged. So, after a nice sail on Saturday morning, I spent the rest of the day taking down the roof. I need to take down the roof over the side entrance as well, and I’m really hoping that I can finish the deck framing in time to rebuild at least the front entranceway before the snow hits…


You got to work to feed the soul

I had a pretty full weekend. Like many of us, I went to SMP’s baby shower on Saturday, which was a blast. SMP herself spent most of the party sleeping in someone’s arms — she went from Kamelot, to me, and then to some other folks as the guests started pouring in. She seems to do well with crowds, which is probably for the best, considering her parents… :-)

On Sunday, I shunned human contact in order to make tons of progress on the deck. Apologies to Premier for not showing up for breakfast, and also to The Grabber for not meeting her and SMP for a customary afternoon coffee. However, all the beams are done! Now I just have to do the header joists around the edges of the lower deck, and then it’s time for many, many joists in the interior.

After spending nine hours doing manual labour yesterday, I’m a little stiff and sore this morning…but it was worth it!





Watching the tide roll away

BogMan and I went out for a good sail on Friday, and finally had some solid wind that we could use. It was a little gusty at first, but it settled down after a little while. Last year’s uber-gusty adventure has really made me gunshy went it comes to sudden changes in heeling.

I spent the weekend doing some shopping, working on the deck, and getting out on the bike for a couple of hours of riding…so now I’m in a lot of pain. :-(


It’s hard to tell if I exist

I’ve been almost a complete no-show on the blog for the last couple of months, so I thought I’d do one big update to let everyone know what I’ve been up to (and also to share some pictures). A bunch of you will have heard me moaning about the various projects below already…

The Yard

The yard work has been continuing, with most of the time being spent on watering (endless, endless watering). The landscaping log shows the several rounds of seeding I’ve been doing over the last few weeks.

The Course

Despite having had a year to finish my SAD course (the original six months plus three two-month extensions), I still managed to leave it to the last minute. The last week of June and the first few days of July ended up being devoted to finishing what I should have been able to just breeze through had I started earlier. I ended up just barely passing a course that I should have aced…I got an A on three out of four assignments, but ran out of time for the fourth one, which just happened to be worth 30% of the final mark. This is why I say that I’m not exempt from Kav’s First Law:-)

The Garage

I don’t have any pictures of this one, but I really should have taken some, because this little task rivalled the landscaping for sheer amount of work. I finally gutted my garage, emptied out all the junk left by previous owners and installed some proper storage for all the crap that actually needs to be in there. I set up more shelving (following up on what I added last year), a tire rack for my second set of tires, a rack of hanging hooks for my workbenches, roller stands and clamps, hooks for my moving dolly and seed spreader, and another rack of hanging hooks for all the shovels, rakes, brooms and other miscellaneous utility items that always seem to take up space. I also put in a lumber rack on the back wall for my spare sheet stock and installed a wall hanger for my wheelbarrow to get it out of the way. On top of all this, I took three femtovan-loads to the dump, sent many, many boxes to be recycled, sold or disposed of eight tires, sent my old couch cushions to the siblings’ new house, took a box of keyboards out to Computer Recyclers, and gave away my old lawnmower.

After all that work, I actually have a pretty usable workshop, which is what I needed for the rabbit hutch and the deck. I still need to do a little more organizing of all the stuff on the shelves, but that can wait for another time. Ironically, the garage will never house the femtovan, as the Thule racks on top make it too high to fit under the door.

The Rabbit Hutch

When my sisters and their zoo moved into the new house, I offered to make a rabbit hutch for the bunnies, so that they could have a properly-sized home. The three of them have been pretty crowded in the one cage, and were getting pretty grumpy to be stuck in it, and later to be locked away in the downstairs room. Little did I know how much work it would be… :-)


In between the hours and hours of back-breaking labour, I managed to still find a few times to get out on the river — I think I would’ve gone insane without it. I’ve been out with various permutations of friends on July 10, July 29, July 31, and August 9.

The Deck

Now that the yard is in more of a maintenance mode and the hutch is done, I’ve finally been able to start working on the frame of the deck. I’m pretty sure I won’t get to the decking this year, but I’d like to have the frame done before the snow hits (and before I have to stop to work on my awnings…sigh…).


Chasing dragons with plastic swords…

Urk…I’ve really gotta learn to start working on my correspondence courses more than five days before they have to be completed…I got away with it for the first-year course I did, but I’m having some issues pulling it off for the third-year course. Not that it’s any harder, it’s just more work… :-)

Everything was due by last night, but I’ll be banking on non-bastardly TA’s…cuz I ain’t done yet…


I see your schwartz is as big as mine…

Seeing as how Kamelot has my old computer in her new case, you probably already guessed that I’ve got a new computer in my old case…so, as a follow-up to Boyo’s post about his new computer, I thought I’d list off the specs on my new toy:

All of this was installed into my existing Antec SX1040BII case, and I also hung on to my SoundBlaster Audigy card and LG 16x DVD-ROM. So now I’ve got an excellent gaming rig…if only I ever had any time to play some games! :-)

(My thanks go to the excellent folks at CompuNation Computers, purveyors of geekly goodness since 1995.)

Speaking of not having any time, there’s more progress on the landscaping log, for those who are keeping track of my horticultural efforts.

OK, back to the studying…I have to write the exam for my SAD course tomorrow afternoon… :-(


When I move I’m flailing now

Spent some time on the yard again last night, but only managed to do the edging around one tree.

Afterwards, though, Kamelot and I headed down to Britannia beach, she to do some skateboarding, while I broke in my new inline skates and freshly road-tipped poles. I was surprised to discover that I don’t suck — the last time I rollerbladed (something over 10 years ago), I wasn’t that great at it. Apparently, better skates and all the training and practice on ice skates and skate-skis over the last couple of winters has made a big difference. I don’t think I’m quite ready to do any racing, but I think some degree of frequency out on the paths is in order.

Now, if I can only figure out how to stop before the Grabber ends up picking more gravel outta my shoulder… :-)


Your feet are going to be on the ground

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I’ve been pretty busy lately with landscaping my yard. I’ve assembled a photo log of the project for your viewing pleasure. I’ll add to this as things progress.

Having been dedicated to this task pretty exclusively for the last week and a half, there are definitely a few things I’ve learned:

  1. Mosquitos love me. And I mean, they loooooove me. I am apparently a tasty treat.
  2. Although twenty years of computer use has not caused me any wrist pain whatsoever, a few days of shovelling guarantees a major case of carpal tunnel.
  3. 22 cubic yards of top soil is a crapload of dirt to move.

Many thanks go to BogMan and especially Kamelot for all of their help. I should also give Greely Sand some credit for expertly delivering some high-quality top soil… :-)


Ding dong, the Golf is gone!

Woo-hoo! The Golf is finally out of my driveway! After a bad experience with an eBay buyer deciding he really didn’t want the item he won at auction, the second-highest bidder went for the car, and just picked it up today. So I’m free, I’m finally free! :-)

Also, strangely enough, the car apparently made it all the way to Montreal…


I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway

Well, I’ve finally given up on trying to sell the Golf through conventional means, so I’ve decided to partake of the phenomenon known as eBay (anyone heard of it?).

Let’s hope this thing actually moves…my priority at this point is just to get it out of my driveway… :-)


What the hell is A.D.D.?

OK, so apparently this blogging thing requires that I actually write something once in a while. I was kinda hoping that after I primed the pump for a while, that it would just keep going all on its own (that sentence came out dirtier than I intended).

I dunno why I’ve been so silent…it’s not like there’s been a dearth of topics for which a post would be somewhat appropriate. The ski season came to an end with me having set a new personal record for a single ski (26km), bike season has started with me actually biking to work occasionally, I’ve managed to get my ass back into the garage to work on the stupid island some more, and Kamelot’s visiting this week (and that’s all just off the top of my head).

Oh well…as Malcolm Reynolds once said: “Like woman, I am a mystery.” :-)


Breaking land speed records in the van

Well, I finally did it…the stupid Golf broke down again a couple of weeks ago (is it bad when a piece of the frame breaks off?), so I decided it was time to move on. It’s tough when a long-term relationship ends…but look at my shiny new toy! :-)

And yes, before anyone says it, I know it looks like a minivan. Here’s the beauty part, though: it’s not a minivan. It’s a micro-van. Micro!

The sisters had named the Golf “Milo” after a misunderstood U2 lyric, so now I’ve gotta come up with a decent name. I was thinking “Dimi”, short for “diminutive”, but I think the Grabber might have issues with that…


I can’t find the title to the song

Well today is the first day that i am alone in my house for any real amount of time since i moved in. i like my alone time. some people just dont’ understand that you need alone time. like when i don’t want to talk i just grunt my replies and no there is nothign wrong i just don’t want to have to use up that much energy to form real words let alone whole sentences.
Today is also the first day that i was actually able to get on the computer for more then 5 minutes. seeing as this seems to be Mr. T’s permenent spot this days. thank god the new job started and i am now able to use my OWN computer. but anyways besides that little rant i have a delema.
I am trying to find the name of a song which i heard well i was in the bank and i have no idea how i go about finding it. It was a slong song not sure if it was country or easy rock. i didn’t feel like asking the people in the bank. but this is what i remember of the song.
It’s pretty much a story song buy a guy about this girl who’s boyfriend well doesn’t do a lick for her. wont open the door for her or buy her flowers or do any of those things girls like in a relationship. and buy the end of the sing the guy singing steals the girl away by actually doing those things for her. this are the lyrics that i do remember….

“So i’ll buy you a rose on the way home from work.
open the door to a heart that was hurt.
tell you i love you by the look in my eye.
this are the little things that mean the most in our lives.”

and for the record this words might not be exact but they are really close. so if anyone knows the song then please post the name and artist for me. thanks.


Find him an octoped ingenue

So I won’t be skiing today…

I woke up this morning with more pain than I was expecting, so I’m sitting at the Queensway Carleton Hospital right now, checking to see if my ankle is actually broken. Apparently there’s something called “snowboarder’s ankle”, which is a fracture that presents like a severe sprain.

Spider-Man 2: The GameWhile I’m sitting here waiting (things are going reasonably quickly–I’ve been here 2 1/2 hours and I’ve already had the X-rays done), I thought I’d do some comments on Spider-Man 2: The Game, like I had promised.

(Sidebar: I love my handheld!)

If anyone’s played any of the previous Spider-Man games, you’ll know why I picked this one up–they’ve all been highly enjoyable and really capture the ‘fun’ of the character. Activision has decided to ratchet up the realism in this version, in every aspect.

Hope you're not scared of heights...The first new element of the game that you experience is the one that will probably stay with you right until the end. Unlike previous incarnations, this game puts Spidey into a complete 3D rendering of New York that you’re free to swing around as much as you’d like. This is a touch of GTA that I was glad to see added. You can explore the city from street level right to the top of the Empire State building.

Sure beats the bus!The other major change is the wall-crawler’s web swinging dynamics. While you can choose to use the older-style one-button web swinging, the newer, more complex variety is both more fun (once you’ve got the hang of it) and more powerful. You now have complete control over what Spidey swings from, what he does mid-swing, and when he releases the line. While this means that you can’t web swing without something to latch onto, it also means that you can swing from anything–a tree, streetlight, or bridge are all fair game. Plus, with practice, you can swing around corners, control your altitude, or cover whole city blocks in one swing.

The game is broken up into chapters, each with its own objectives. Typically, the objectives will include obtaining a certain number of “hero points” and then showing up at a specified location to trigger the chapter’s primary mission.

The hero point system allows you to upgrade your skills, speed, and acrobatic abilities in exchange for points awarded after completing various heroics. While on patrol (i.e. swinging around randomly), you’ll see crimes being committed that you can stop, as well as citizens calling for you to give you little mini-missions. All of these will get you hero points, but a failed mini-mission will result in losing some of your points.

To be honest, the patrol is really what makes this game great. The mini-missions are fun (although a few more types of missions wouldn’t hurt), and just swinging around and practising your acrobatics is strangely therapeutic. The bigger “boss” missions tend to be about executing combat or jump maneuvers with some precision, and repeating it until you get it right. If I wanted to play a repetitive jumping game, I would’ve bought a Nintendo instead of my PS2.

Story-wise, the game loosely follows the plot of the movie, but many of the details are changed for simplicity. The one big change is that the Black Cat makes a welcome (and busty) appearance. If you’ve gone through the extras on the Spiderman 2 DVD, you’ll know that Cat was being seriously considered for inclusion in the movie, but they dropped her for fear of not being able to do her justice while dealing with everything else in the story. So it’s nice to see that she made it into the game (at least for the comics fans).

Overall, this is a very fun game that could have been unbelievably great with a little more attention to the missions themselves. Still, I don’t think there’s any danger of there not being another sequel. :-)

Oh, and I’m done at the hospital–no broken bones, just the bad sprain. It’s a weird day when a bad sprain is good news…


Same Season, New Sport, New Injury

Well, that didn’t take long…

BirdLady and I decided to go out and try something new today, so we signed up for snowboarding lessons at Camp Fortune. I figured that I’ve already hurt myself once this season, so I’ve probably gotten that out of the way. Plus, this is just a beginner’s lesson, so it shouldn’t be too taxing.

We started out by getting registered at the ski school. Camp Fortune isn’t the most organized place I’ve seen, but I’ve also seen worse. We got ourselves paid up and headed down to get our rented boards. This part was much smoother, so we were soon out on the snow.

This was where I ran into trouble. My first slide down a slight slope went fine, but as I was working myself back up the hill I fell, and twisted my ankle while doing so. This is how I discovered that snowboard bindings don’t release under pressure like alpine ski bindings do.

(Kudos to the Fortune ski school, though–they refunded me my money without any hassle…seeing as I only got about three minutes out of the lesson. :) )

I managed to sprain whichever tendon it is that controls the rotation of the foot in the horizontal axis (I’m sure the Grabber can let us know which one that is). I’ll be icing it tonight in the hopes that an ankle support will allow me to do some cross-country skiing tomorrow.



Ow redux

I spent this weekend doing a whole lot of cross-country skiing (skating, actually), so this morning I’m pretty damn sore and can’t move too well. I took one of the City of Ottawa ski courses, which involved several hours of practicing technique around a track at Mooney’s Bay. Then, to cap it all off, I (and the whole Riverdale gang) headed up to Gatineau Park for a little woodsy ski fun.

And today I slowly hobble around my house, secure in the knowledge that, according to some insane people, this is supposed to be good for me…


You’d think I’d learn…

Well, I’m still in Peterborough, even though I was supposed to have left yesterday. My car has decided that the problems from earlier this month were not nearly punishment enough for whatever transgressions I’ve apparently committed.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, Kamelot and I were on our way to Crappy Pneu when we were assaulted by smelly steam pouring out of the air vents. After pulling over and emitting a Terminator-esque “Get out”, I quickly determined that the car was not about to explode like a Pinto backing into a parking spot. So we gingerly continued on our way, to see what the mechanics at CT would say. Unfortunately, they were booked up for the rest of the afternoon, so they weren’t able to even look at the car until yesterday.

Yesterday came along, and I was told that there was coolant leaking into my heater core, and that this had to be dealt with at the dealer. And of course, the dealer was closed yesterday, due to that stupid Christmas thing. This morning I got up bright and early to drop off my car at the dealer, only to be told that they ‘might’ be able to get to it today.

So here I am, stuck in Peterborough. There was actually a whole list of things I had planned for this holiday week, and the vast majority of it involved me (and my car) being in Ottawa. Murphy’s Law strikes again… :-(