Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm a Celebrity

I've got some photos to post of trips Netherlands, Turkey and Norway, but going to be a week or so before I get around to it. But in the mean time, just to prove I actually was there, here's a photo of Pat and I in Stavanger...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

finally a post again

Okay, it's been a few months. Probably most people have given up on me posting again. Work got a little intense and it's summer and... I've got a list of excuses, let me go grab a couple more :)

Work was intense. Second week in July I got out a report that was three volumes and over 1000 pages documenting most of what I had been working on for 13 months. And then July 30 I was in Belfast to present the reports to the regulator and have a meeting. Anyway, since getting the reports done I've started to refocus and reduce the workload and have been doing a pretty good job.

I've been doing a fair bit of play as well... I've spent a weekend sailing around the Isle of Wight (near Portsmouth), have been hiking in Dartmoor (SW England near Cornwall) and Gower (south Wales), climbing in the Wye Valley (on the border with Wales and England at the River Severn), kayaking near Brighton, etc. etc. So definitely have been getting a chance to see some of the British country side.

I've been pretty bad about bringing my camera or getting photos from others (or just too lazy to keep them in one place). Here are a couple from Gowers a couple weeks back:

And a couple weeks ago I got dressed up and went to the Cartier's International Polo and saw England and Argentina play along with my buddy Prince Chuck. Quite a snooty affair, but fun none the less:

As for the next few months, I'm still trying to get to the Netherlands to visit Jen, Darran & Jenny and Lisette, also Norway to visit Pat & Stef, and various places. I've bought tickets to climb Mt. Toukbal in Morocco starting on my birthday (Oct. 7 for those that want to send an early present) and I'm off to Turkey in a couple weeks though I still haven't bought my ticket. And I need to do a better job of working from France as I don't pay taxes when I work there!! (just did my UK taxes and getting 15% of my taxes back from last year!) I'll try to do a better job of snapping some photos and writing blogs in the coming months!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Florida wildlife from past days...

A few animals from the Florida everglades...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

first week in France

Last week was my first somewhat normal week working and living in France. Not entirely, but somewhat. I travelled to Lyon (plan) Tuesday afternoon and caught up with Jim (from our Germany office, we're both Project Managers) at the flat. The flat is a 2-bedroom with a living (w/ pull out couch) and a small dining area and kitchen. And all stylishly decorated with flat screens in living room and bedrooms, so not too bad.

The next day I went into the office of the company we're partnered with in France and got neck deep in the projects I've kind of been ignoring for a bit. And I won't bore you with details, but mostly just scoping and setting up proposals and such for the French projects right now. And then for Thursday and Friday I mostly worked out of the flat and didn't go into the office, which means I could have been working on a beach in Asia (a consideration!!), but anyway... went out a couple times once to a good brew pub near the stadium... Gerand was it? So that was my first somewhat normal week in Lyon.

To keep things interesting, I left Lyon Saturday morning and headed to Paris by train. I've a friend here and spent Sat & Sun night. Wasn't a cloud in the sky and over 20 so we sat around in tshirts on the Seine Saturday afternoon... very rough... Then went to a house party on Sat night on the hill near Sacre Coeur (Montemarte). Here I drank what seemed a very reasonable / normal amount of beer, but in retrospective, drank too little water during the day, leading to nice headache Sunday morning. So Sunday started rather slow going to a markets (near Bastille) and we sat around in a sidewalk cafe for a couple hours. And then I got setup with a couple other friends going to the Musee Pampidou, which was free along with all museums on the first Sunday of the month. And was good because one of these friends didn't talk English so it forced the conversation for the afternoon/evening entirely into French, which is much better for my practicing!!

Well, that's about it. Had a nice home-cooked salmon dinner last night and now I'm on the trainsoon to go into the chunnel and should be at work in London in another hour. Must admit, I've spent ~€350 on trains coming home through Paris (which I plan to expense) rather than the €70 a flight would have cost from Lyon to London, but I'm not charging my travel time, so I feel no guilt. But it is still amazing that trains can be that much more expensive than flying. But travel city center to city center sure makes life easy (I left the apartment about 1hr 10min before my train was to depart, just try to do that for the airport!)

And my goal now is to stay in London for 2 weeks without any travel. I'm thinking I've got a shot!! Other goals for those who care:

- make all my French classes for next 2 weeks and actually do my homework
and practice occasionally (there's a few French group get togethers I
can attend if I get off butt)

- make it to the climbing gym again for the first time in 6 months

- get signed up with the gym across the street from work that work pays for
and I haven't registered with despite being full time in London since July

- getting telephone and tv at the flat tomorrow - have to stay home all
day :( internet will follow in 12-15 business days

- thinking I might by a plant for the flat and make it look like someone
lives there (did I mention I bought a print for the wall? a Lichtenstein...)

- I'm avoiding putting work things down as priorities to do, though the
sad realiity is....

- make plans for some trips... Netherlands in April to visit Jen, Darran
& Jenny and soon to be Lisette as well!, find a time for Canada in the
summer, and then my sister and her kids in August (Lyon and then Greece
& Italy I think is the plan) - but I'm also thinking of working in a trip
to somewhere new... was thinking Egypt, someone just planted the thought
of Istanbul... somewhere for just a 3-4 day weekend might be nice and
easily doable.

- oh, and I hopefully hired someone on Friday, but assuming they accept,
they won't really start until April 10, so I can't start dumping on them
until then. this should really help give me more of a life!!

Okay, I must stop writing and go for my pain au chocolat, jus d'orange et grande creme (whichis more or less a cafe au lait or maybe a latee from what I can tell). Priorities!!

So does this blog make my mother happy? And I'll have a phone in my flat so you can start calling me at 4AM! And my sister can rack up my cell phone with roaming charges in Paris while I give instructions on how to install a portable hard drive! Seriously, that's pricey tech support!! :)

(Quick little side note... it's the next day and I'm finally putting this into the blog... missed French class last night and went for some really yummy Indian food instead... just got my landline hooked up, the number for which I'm not going to put online!! now waiting for the Sky-tv guy...)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

to watch or not to watch...

The biggest dilemma of my life right now is whether I should get cable and internet. Right now I snag wireless off the corner coffee shop and it is slow and unreliable. So here are the considerations:

- ~£30/month, 12 month contract for sat TV (w/ digital box w/ 40hr recording), high-speed internet and a phone line

- I'm supposed to be paying an annual TV tax that everyone with a TV pays; I've avoided it so far and could be prosecuted, but plan to play the dumb Canadian who is hardly ever here (not far from the truth). But if I get my sat TV hooked up, I'm going to have a hard time playing dumb (okay, I can still pull it off pretty easy).

- As soon as I commit, I'll get fire or want to move.

- If I don't commit, I'll be in London for 13 years without good TV.

- If I do commit, then I can watch Battelstar Galactica & Lost live on TV, recorded on the Sky digital box, or via high-speed internet (via my US work VPN)

- If I don't commit, I could take the ~£450 at the end of each year and go on vacation (this rationale falls apart because whether I spend the money on the TV has nothing to do with whether I'll go on vacation).

So it more or less comes down to the fact that I'm an analytical Libra who doesn't make decisions very quickly. An intuitive friend in the bar last night suggested that I treat digital cable boxes and women the same way... I keep looking at the specs, weighing the options, humming and hawing, and then do nothing until the decision is ultimately made by me moving countries. Ouch, but somewhat true! So maybe I should:

A. get married
B. get cable
C. A and read more books
D. B and go to the bar more often
E. A but only after B and only if B doesn't cause A not to happen
because I never leave the house

Well, too much babble about nothing I know. Besides cable/TV/, life is good. Was in Madrid most of last week for training and meetings. Came home Friday 9PM and found the construction guy (washing machine leak of months ago finally being fixed) had locked a lock on my door for which I didn't have a key. Forced me to go sleep at a friends Friday night. This week I'm in London for the entire week (yahoo!) and next week off to Lyon Mon-Weds for meetings. Hopefully be my first time staying in the new flat (Ed, Lisette, Robyin and others that have already made reservations - should be getting it any day now).

Only other thing new is that I'm taking French classes Mon & Weds nights. I've got homework to do tonight actually :) This and my time in Lyon should do wonders! I'm already much more fluent in being able to have conversations, but the future conditional, future proche and future simple are all causing me to revisit my past... quite strange!!

So between the travelling, classes, work still being nuts and some general trouble causing and visiting of establishments providing alcoholic beverages (Madrid was bad for this!), I'm rather out of control. One of my new year's resolutions was to slow down and haven't quite managed that yet. Though meeting with the recruiter at 4:30 this aft about some possible hires to support me this has been listed as high priority for him for 2 months now and still no one hired while our #1 competitor has laid off 25% of their workforce... how can we not find a suitable candidate?!?!

Did I mention I'm finally feeling 100%. Had a nasty something when I got back from NA, strep or mono or something that laid me out for most of a week with a fever and then kept me wiped for the next couple weeks (several family members back home had it all weeks apart, which makes it sound like mono, which would also explain the tiredness afterwards, though my niece just last week, about 3 weeks after I left, came down with a confirmed case of strep). Anyway, finally feeling like my old workaholic self. And speaking of that, I'm leading a conference call with the client in 2 minutes and I guess I'll be winging it!!