Thursday, June 15, 2006

as the summer evolves...

I'm finally in Winnipeg. Was painful getting out of Calgary (i.e., packing and cleaning up Carole's apartment in case she returns before I do (unlikely, but...) - it took about 3 hours to pack my car. I'm quite disappointed in my friend Paul, who usually helps me pack up!! So I made it out of Calgary just before noon on Monday, meaning it was a long day of driving and didn't get into Winnipeg until after midnight.

One comment about the drive... Saskatchewan is now entirely 4 lane and 110 km/hr (almost, last 20 km under construction)! This makes the trip so much faster! Although I left my roof racks on and with a full load I got the worst fuel economy of my life... I was right up there with an SUV barely getting 30 mpg (Imperial gallons that is, or ~25 US mpg). Anyway...

You'd think my life would be slow and relaxing, but there are so many things to do! (truth and sarcasm, all at the same time!) Day 1 in Winnipeg I sleep in a bit, then get up and just hang with my Dad for about an hour or two (get breakfast and coffee made, you know...), then it's over to my sister's, pick my nephew up at school, lunch with the kids, then off to my grandmother's with my Dad, then back to my parents for dinner, then off to my nephew's inline hockey game, then home to bed. This is a vacation?

Day 2 was less busy, but still involved too much effort. Watching the hockey game with my nephew (Edmonton scored in overtime to stay alive... series is now 3-2 in favor of Carolina, best of 7, and now heading back to Edmonton), playing basketball during the intermissions, and beating him up regularly. Now I'm on Day 3 and I stayed at my sisters because I new it would be calmer (kids are at school and didn't come home for lunch today) and I need to get a report done for tomorrow, which I haven't started because I haven't done any work this week. However, my sister and I got talking this morning next thing I know I'm travelling around Quebec / Ontario with my sister and her kids in a few weeks. I can't complain, because I just got a return ticket bought for me (on airmiles). So, the newest plans are...

I'm flying to Toronto on June 30, spending the long weekend in John either at his cabin or sailing (yet to be decided). Then the following week (week of July 3rd) I'll travel to Montreal, meet up with a couple friends and catch a few days of the Jazz Festival (which runs till July 9th). And on July 9th, my sister (Robyn) and her 2 kids (Jack & Emma) are flying in to Montreal. We'll spend just 1 day in Montreal and then head to Quebec City. The plan is to mak this a bit of a touristy and informative trip for the kids, which isn't hard to do in Quebec City (e.g., Plains of Abraham, fort this and fort that, etc.). After a few days in Quebec City we'll jump a train to Ottawa, where none of us have ever been. Note that I'll be the pretend father throughout all this! The end of the trip will all 4 of us flying back to Winnipeg on July 17th. And all this flying on airmiles (or Aeroplan to be precise) on the exact days we wanted and on short notice... pretty sweet!

Okay, more later, must do some work and make enough money to buy beer.

P.S. I'm looking for places to stay in Montreal!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Life in Cowtown

Did we all catch the hockey game last night? How depressing!! Up 3 goals in the third and they still lost! And did their goalie in too! Life is unbearable!! Okay, I actually only slightly care, but why let reality get in the way of a good story?

Life is good, with only a few exceptions. Maybe I should start off with the bad things? Well, first of all, my car is a bit of a pain in the butt. I have to get a federal inspection done since I'm importing it into Canada. I already paid ~$350 for the inspection at the border, but there are still additional things. First there are daytime running lights ($176), child seat mounting kit (~$??), french stickers for the doors, airbags, seatbelts (~$???), and some other things I probably don't know about yet... they say stuff like your bumpers may need modifying, but it's an Acura, so it should meet Canadian standards (otherwise I should just ask what their name is so I can name my first child). And the is just for the federal inspection. The provincial inspection is next and this is where I'll get dinged for having too thin of brake pads or who knows. And on top of all this, my clutch is gone. Yes, it's been going for years, but it seems to have waited until my income is at it's lowest in years to finally start requesting action. I'm still in denial and remembering how I used to drive my MGB - double clutch and heel & toe...

Okay, only two more things to bitch about...

Sunday morning I continued the process of backing up my laptop and synchronizing files with my home desktop computer. I had already synched my music, much of my personal stuff and was working on photos. I then noticed I had a couple user profiles that weren't mine on the laptop (from when other people at work had logged onto my laptop). I've always periodically deleted these profiles and did so again. Unfortunately, after doing so, I noticed I had a large amount of free space on my laptop and no icons left on my desktop. Seems Windows also deleted my profile and all files within My Documents - essentially every file on the computer excluding programs including my Outlook PSTs, my photos, and some other miscellaneous stuff that weren't necessarily backed up. Sweet!! I spent Monday with hard disk recovery software fixing my computer. It seems the some files that had been used most recent didn't get recovered including some of the PSTs which were rather important. Oh well.

Last thing to bitch aobut... when is someone going to clean up Carole's condo and put away my stuff? I find I still have a lot of stuff, be it clothes, climbing gear, shoes, junk, computer stuff, etc. etc., yet I don't really have anywhere to put it. I need to get my clothes widdled down to just a couple suitcases instead of 3 duffle bags and 2 suitcases. Unfortunately the CD rack fell over onto and into my clothes bags about 4 days ago (one of the tall towers that I set up when I got here) and I've yet to muster the energy to clean up the mess.

So in the big picture now, not really that much to complain about. I've been doing a bit of work, but not much as the work hasn't been really coming in until yesterday and I haven't been searching it out. The computer thing came at a bad time because there is work now so tomorrow I will have to be productive for a change. I had I think my biggest paycheck ever nearly 2 weeks ago... the reward for doing 12 days straight (12 hour + days) of fieldwork netted me nearly a months pay... SWEET! That will cover my clutch, all my car problems, and still leave me enough money to live on for the next month so I can't complain too much.

Life in Calgary is good too. I've mostly been hanging with friends and just catching up. There have been more BBQs and dinners at friends houses than I can count. I went over to Stef's tonight and had dinner with her and her sister tonight (and Chloe too, she's 11 months). Her hubby Pat is out of town, so we just sat around after dinner for several hours and chatted. This is a pretty typical night. There have definitely been a few nights of partying, but for the most part just hanging with friends. I also caught up with Ted last weekend who is a bestfriend from literally from preschool who is now living in Calgary (I'll be back in Calgary in early August for his wedding).

I wish there was more deep and meaningful stuff to say right now, but the past couple weeks have been purely unwind moments with general hanging out and accentuated by a few moments of excitement. I've been climbing at the gym a couple times, played squash once (again tomorrow), walked a bunch, and sat on many a patio. Well, I must say something else besides bitching and boring details... ah yes... I've wondered about lots of stuff (yes, I have way too much time on my hands). Here are some random thoughts...

- Calgary is now the largest city in Canada that allows smoking in bars. What's up with that? What makes it even stranger is that you can't smoke on patios, but you can smoke in the bar. Ummm, excuse me, I want to have a cigarette so I'm going to go inside. The people who made up this law must have been smoking more than a cigarette!

- Calgary is booming right now in terms of money. But people here also seem infatuated with money. House prices went up 40% last year alone (which helps me feel better about paying my $1600 house tax bill this month) and show no signs of slowing down. I can't remember any time in San Fran when we went out and discussed stock options, mergers, etc. Yet it's the #1 talk here. Maybe if I had 35,000 stock options and my company was about to be bought out at $45/share I might be more apt to talk about stocks :) But to me, people in San Fran seemed pretty well grounded and happy without being as concerned about money. Granted, no one could afford a house but....

- Good friends are worth a lot. I've been lucky enough to make some really good friends in all the places I've lived. I'm more the person that makes a small handful of great loyal, long-term friends than the type of person who makes lots of acquaintances. San Fran was funny this past year in that a group of friends that hung out together for the past couple years was dissolving... Justin & Erin moving to Washington, Sam moving Colorado (?). Usually a friend comes and goes, but this kind of seemed like the entire group dissipated. Well, there are others in "the group" and I don't want to be exclusionary, but you know what I mean. Actually, San Fran is very transient and I therefore made many good friends that moved on... just the nature of the city. It's nice to come back to Calgary and find that many of my good friends from years ago are still here! But even this is not going to last. Looks like, for example, the Aussie is going to Thailand, Welshman is going to Holland, and the Frenchwoman is just never here (but I'll visit her elsewhere!). Anyway, good friends will always catch up sometime, somewhere.

Lastly, I guess I'll give a quick update on the plans for those who A. Care B. Are planning on meeting up with me somewhere or C. Want to know when and where to avoid me. My latest intent is to go to Winnipeg this weekend, be there for nearly 2 months, but fly to Montreal / Toronto for 2 weeks sometime in those 2 months. I have to be back in Calgary for an August 5 wedding (someone else's) and I'm going to babysit Branan (Paul & Sue's son) the weekend of Aug 12 in appreciation for Paul helping me move back up to Calgary. Then ~Aug 15 I'm on a roadtrip down to San Fran (maybe through Washington to catch up with Erin & Justin?) needing to be at Burning Man late August or early September? I could look at a calendar, but... After that there are several friends I'd like to catch up with in San Fran and the surrounding regions if they'll have me on their couches. Then after that I'm thinking much more seriously about Africa now. Time to strike one of the last continents off the list? Okay, I've only been to Costa Rica, so that probably doen't count as South America, or does it? Central America isn't a continent, is it? So if it isn't, where does that put Costa Rica? If CR is in SA, then Africa is my last continent (I'm just accepting the lack of desire and resources as eliminating Antarctica from the realm of likelihood). There's some possible work opportunities that have popped there head up recently for work in Ethiopia, but even mentioning this is way ahead of schedule.

Okay, essay over. Off to bed (or maybe I'll stay up for the Daily Show... which I get even without cable... sweet!!).