Thursday, November 05, 2009


So today, I was planning to go out for another walk with Steve. We're trying to take advantage of the good weather as long as it lasts, and it's been a very enjoyable form of exercise. I picked up Steve this afternoon, and we headed out in my car to the trail we've been walking.

On the way there, Steve asked if I could stop at the bank for him, which I did. While he was inside, Erin B called my cell, so I was talking to her for a few minutes. Erin had a little oops last night and locked her keys in her car. She ended up having to call a locksmith and pay $75 for him to spend 30 seconds unlocking her door, which really sucked. So she was telling me about this as Steve came back to the car. I asked her how that had happened, because I thought most new cars made it pretty hard to lock your keys in now. For example, I said, you couldn't possibly lock your keys in my car, because you had to use the key to lock the driver's side door. She explained the mechanism in her car, I said "ahh" and shortly got off the phone and Steve and I continued on to our destination.

So we get there, a place maybe 5km from Gord's house, where we left from. It's out on Bissett Road, kind of on the edges of the city. Steve got out and locked both of the doors on his side of the car. Both doors on my side of the car were unlocked. I got out of the car, closed and locked the door. Tossed the keys in my purse. I opened the back door and put my purse on the back seat as I put on my jacket. As I went to lock that door, a little voice in the back of my head told me to be careful. "Oh ho!" I said to myself. "I will not be so foolish as to lock my keys in the car like Erin did!" So I was extra careful to make sure that the keys were in my purse, and the purse was in my hand, before I locked and closed the door. Hah! I had fully locked my car, and did not lock my keys in the car. Fear not, little voice in my head, I had not been so foolish!

Then I pulled open the trunk, which I had popped before I got out of the car, and put my purse in it. And closed the trunk. This is what I have done on every walk we've taken, because I don't like to carry my purse as we walk, and don't want to leave it just sitting in plain view in the car. However, I put the keys in my pocket usually.

So I realized what I had done even before the lid of the trunk had closed. It was that moment when you know what you've done, and you have just enough time to regret your idiocy before the lid of the trunk slams down, protecting your purse from passers-by, and protecting your car from the chance that you might drive it home because now your keys are safely locked in the trunk.

The look on my face as I realized that I had just locked my keys in the trunk of the car, not 10 minutes after telling Erin how unlikely it is that you will lock your keys in my car, must have tipped Steve off to what I had done, because he looked as stunned as I felt as he stared at me. A choice curse word or three escaped my lips. Then Steve and I cracked up laughing. It was so ridiculous that there wasn't much else to be done for it.

Steve then shrugged and said "Well, we came out here for a walk anyway", and we started walking back to Gord's. I had my cell phone in it's holster on my hip, so I called mom to postpone the supper plans I had with her, as there was no way I was making them now (sorry mom :( ). I then sent Alan a text message (he was in class til 6:30) to call me when he could. The plan was that I would have to get Alan to get to Gord's after class, so we could go back to the car and use his key to get into it.

Then of course, we ended up taking a huge side track on the walk back to Gord's. Bissett Road, at least that section of it, is not pedestrian-friendly, with no sidewalk and a narrow shoulder. We decided to take a trail that, according to it's map, ran parallel to the road, and eventually came out where the sidewalk started. However, turned out that the map was not entirely representative of the trail, and we ended up taking this long loop that just put us back where we started before we found the actual trail we wanted, adding probably another 2km or so to our trip.

We did make it back safe and sound, and in very good humor all things considered. We didn't actually walk any further than we would have on our normal walk anyway, and I hung out with Gord and Steve til Alan got off school. Gord is pretty sick right now, so Erin drove me out to the bridge bus terminal, where Alan got dropped off by a friend. She then drove Alan and I out to our car, and we retrieved my purse and headed home.

Lesson for the day: karma is a bitch. Never say never, and tempt the universe to show you just how possible it is for you to lock your keys in the car =P

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Little things

Heyo, haven't had much to say lately, but I haven't forgotten you. Life has been mostly quiet here, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There have been some little things here and there, mostly some little improvements to lifestyle that will hopefully add up to something later.

I had a couple of weeks where I kind of got off the exercise and good eating train, and I'm happy to say I'm getting back where I should be. With the notable exception of a brunch at Gord's Saturday, I've been eating pretty well overall. I've also been exercising with increasing regularity again. I went for a 14km walk with Steve last week, and we went for another 10km yesterday. I'm also bowling twice a week, and doing some weights, yoga and cardio at home. I'm starting to feel a bit better and more energetic again, which is always a good thing.

The other little thing is that Alan and I are trying to change our sleeping schedule to make our days more productive. We don't sleep in particularly late, but later than we probably should. Alan suggested on the weekend that we take advantage of the time change, since our bodies will already think it's later than it is, so for the last two days we've gotten up at 6am, and our goal is to do it all week and see how we feel. So far it's actually going pretty well. I definitely have an issue with it being pitch black outside when I wake up, but that's always an issue I have in the winter.

It's actually been pretty nice in that I'm getting up that early...I'm definitely feeling more productive. I've had plenty of time to exercise and get breakfast, and still be ready to go to the office by the same time I would have been scrambling to get there before. We'll see how the rest of the week goes.

In other news, I finally count at my Tuesday night bowling alley. Since I came into it after the season already started, I had to spend 3 weeks as a spare to get my average established. This is the league where they were told that my average would be 94, and I had to prove a point. Well, after three weeks, my average is 101, so point proven. I actually got asked tonight by someone in the league if I found that the pins fall easier at my other bowling alley. I said that my average there is actually lower than this one (100 on the Sunday league), so that's not really an argument for it being easier to bowl there.

But yeah, that's all the news that is news. I promise I'll post if there's anything interesting to say, but my life is pretty boring at the moment.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm a real biker now

Yes, it's time for more motorcycle stories. Sorry mom ;)

So after what felt like weeks of rain and bad timing, I got to go out on the motorcycle again today. I was feeling ambitious, and had a goal - getting to dad's house this evening, for his Monday night biker-friend gathering. I intended to go first to my friend Gord's house, then to dad's afterwards.

Well, the day didn't go entirely as planned of course, but I'm happy to say I did get as far as Gord's house, and back home. I was worried about the temperature, so i got my longjohns on (nothing says sexy like longjohns), put on two shirts under my jacket, and put my rain gear in a back pack. If it was still too cold, I'd put on the rain gear to cut the wind a bit.

All geared up, I faced my first challenge - the rotary. I'm happy to say it went without a hitch. Until I realized I'd forgotten to bring change to get across the bridge. I promptly turned around, faced the rotary again (successfully again), went home and got bridge money.

Thinking I was being very clever, I grabbed 6 quarters, 3 for each way across the bridge. I put 3 in one pocket of my jeans, and 3 in the other, again for each trip. I got back on the bike and restarted my trip to Gord's house.

Things went smoothly until I got to the bridge. The first thing that happened is that as I was stopped at the traffic lights at Gottigen and North, right before the bridge, an SUV pulled up beside me and rolled down the window. The guy driving flashed a police badge at me (he was clearly off duty), and asked me if that was my bike. I said yes and nodded in case he couldn't hear me over the bike. He asked if I knew I had no plates. I said yes, I had a temporary permit in my backpack (I did, you can't stick them to a bike the way you do a car window). He said ok, he had just wanted to make sure I knew and that someone hadn't stolen my plates. The light changed and we went on our merry ways.

As I was driving over the bridge, quite thrilled at the novelty of the sensation of being in the open air over it, it occurred to me that I hadn't fully thought through my bridge change plan. The change was in my jeans pockets...and I was wearing big driving gloves. I couldn't dig for change in my pockets with those gloves on. Uh oh.

So I get to the toll booth, and the first problem happens: I can't get the bike into neutral. This means that if I let go of the clutch, the bike will stall. If I don't let go of the clutch, I can't get my gloves off. I decide to shut off the engine, planning to restart quickly once the toll is paid. So I shut off the bike, and start yanking off my gloves. This is already taking long enough that I realize I've badly miscalculated this step of my trip.

Gloves off, I try to find the quarters in my pockets. I also had a twenty dollar bill in the pocket, which of course got in the way. I manage to dig the quarters out, throw them in the basket, and try to shove the twenty back in my jeans. Of course, since I'm starting to panic at how long this is taking me (and I have cars waiting behind me), I can't get it in the pocket. I slam it into my jacket pocket instead, acknowledging in my head that I have probably just lost the twenty.

Now I try to get my gloves back on. In the process I drop one on the ground. To get it, I had to put the kickstand down and lean the bike over, grabbing the glove. Someone honked at this point. You can't imagine how much I was cursing and how red my face was.

I retrieve the glove, manage to get them both on, and then try to restart the bike. It doesn't start. I try it again. It doesn't start again. I realize I forgot to turn the engine back on. I do so, and the bike starts right away. I start to drive away, finally. I think a total of about two minutes felt like 20. A normal drive through the toll booth takes like 10 seconds. As I drive away, I realize that the kickstand is still down. Somehow, I managed to get the kickstand back up as I drove off.

I was pretty shaken after this fiasco, but I made it to Gord's just fine after that. The twenty was still in my pocket when I got there too! I had a nice visit with Steve and Gord, and came to the decision that I would not go to dad's. I was too nervous about driving on the highway at night on my way home, as I haven't done any night driving yet and that seemed like too much to start with. I was also worried about the cold. Though I had been ok getting to Gord's, my hands were pretty cold by the time I got there, and I knew the temperature would drop quick at night. I decided to play it safe and left Gord's about 5:30, which was late enough that I missed most of the rush hour traffic, and early enough that the sun was just disappearing as I got home. I was definitely right about how cold it would get, because even with the sun low on the horizon it was noticably colder driving home.

The bridge was much less of an event going home. Since I knew the twenty had made the trip in my jacket pocket, I put the quarters in it this time. The jacket pocket is loose enough that I can dig in it with my gloves on. It was still a bit awkward, and I missed a quarter the first time, but it went much better. I also managed to get the bike into neutral this time, which helped. I think it was about a 30 second ordeal, instead of 2 minutes, so big improvement. The next time, I will just take the MacPass from the car and keep it in my pocket instead =P

So important lessons learned today - bring the MacPass, and it gets super cold as the sun goes down. I do not have the level of gear needed for night riding in late October. It was a great experience though, I'm really pleased that I was able to drive in real traffic in a mostly normal manner. I figured out the small shifting problems I had been having too, was just a matter of taking a long enough drive to find the pattern in what was happening. I am very happy, and feel like I'm a real biker now, since I have proven I can take it places :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Social time

Good evening!

As implied by the title, today was a day of visiting and social time with friends and family. It was nice :)

We had a nice lazy morning, having breakfast with Nanny. Once we were up and around, I called my other grandmother, Nana, to find out when I could visit her today. I ended up dropping Erin off at Steve's, then heading over to Nana's to visit with her and Arnold for a bit. I couldn't stay there long, as Nana had an appointment in the afternoon, but I was able to have a bite of lunch with them and catch up a bit. It was a good little visit and they seemed very pleased to see me.

After leaving Nana's I went to find Steve and Erin, who had gone out for walk, and we went back to Steve's house a while. We eventually headed back to Nanny's, as she was making pot roast for supper and didn't mind feeding a few extra people (Steve has enough of an appetite that he counts as a few people). We went for a nice walk down part of the Trans-Canada trail that runs near Nanny's house while we waited for supper. We saw lots of birds, including ducks and a heron, and I'm pretty sure I saw an eagle flying too, but I can't prove that as it was a ways off. It was a lovely sunny day though, perfect for a nice walk.

Supper was excellent, of course. It always is at Nanny's house. I took Steve home shortly after dinner, as Erin and I talked him into coming back to Halifax with us for a visit (and possibly for longer), and he needed to get his laundry and packing done. On my way back to Nanny's, I stopped at my aunt's house to visit her and my cousin Emma (Billy is out of town), but Emma had skating tonight and they weren't home. Ah well, hopefully I will catch up with them next time.

The rest of the evening was me, Erin and Nanny having what Nanny called a "stitch 'n bitch". Erin and I were cross-stitching, Nanny was knitting, and we watched TV and chatted. It sounds so domestic and the opposite of cool, but it's really nice to do that once in a while. It's one of the reason I love coming to Nanny & Grampy's. And now I am sitting in bed writing a blog entry before I go to sleep to rest up for the trip home tomorrow.

Look at me, posting two days in a row...the world must be ending ;) I will post again from home, where I should be tomorrow!

Edit - Oh, extra comment that Jacki's comment reminded me of. Erin passed the night in the basement uneventfully, and is dubious as to the extent of the haunting in the basement ;)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hello from Moncton

Yup, I'm in Moncton again. I was supposed to have a conference here tomorrow, and had planned on spending some extra time here with family and friends, and then they cancelled the conference. I decided that since I had planned on being away anyway, there was no reason to change my travel plans, so here I am!

Actually there was one change, and that is that I brought my friend Erin with me. She is currently downstairs, sleeping on the sofa in the basement. I did warn her that the basement is haunted (according to several members of my family that have lived here for long periods of time), but she didn't seem concerned. I had thought that she might enjoy the chance to have a change of scenery, and to be able to visit with Steve, and I was right :) I am glad to have her company while I am here too.

So there hasn't been too much going on lately, thus the lack of posting. I never see the point in posting "today was the same as yesterday pretty much", I always want to wait until I have some things to report. A few fun things happened this weekend. First, I dyed my hair red...well really I gave the dye to Erin and she dyed my hair for me. The point is, my hair is now red again! As soon as I saw it red, I wondered how I ever stopped dying it. I was meant to be a redhead, I love it so much. Erin took this picture for doesn't capture the intensity of the red very well, but we were having trouble getting decent lighting that showed it off, and this was the best we could do. The important thing is that my hair is red again, brighter than it looks in this pic, and my intention at this point is that my hair will now be red for the rest of my life ;)

The other big thing is a motorcycle thing (sorry mom!). I took the bike out the other day for a short cruise in a sunny break between rain showers (I did end up getting a cover for it, so it was dry). I hit another new milestone in that I went out on Northwest Arm Drive, near my house, where the speed limit is 80 km/h. I had never gone that fast before, so it was another step up the ladder to driving confidence. This was after a short drive on some of the real roads in normal traffic situations too. I even had to stop at a red light on a hill, with the bike stuck in second gear (been having some trouble with first and second gear). I was terrified I was going to stall it, trying to start from a full stop in second, as I'd never done it before. It went fine though, I got the bike going no problem. Overall, it was another great confidence booster and I think I'll be ready for real trips around town just in time for the riding season to be officially over =P

I have to say though, my first thought when I got my motorcycle up to 80 wasn't "Holy crap this is too fast", like I thought it would be. Instead, it was "So this is why I need a windshield!". Wow does the wind ever amplify at that speed versus 50 km/h on normal roads. Brilliant me, though, never stopped to think that I did have a visor on my helmet I could have lowered, which would have made things easier. I will remember next time though. I would still want a windshield though, for the wind pounding on the rest of me. And a backrest for the would be nice to not feel like the wind was going to blow me off the bike! (No, the wind will not actually blow me off the bike, it's just the feeling. If the wind hit you that hard your hand would slip off the throttle, slowing the bike down, and allowing you to regain control. Just wanted to throw that out there.)

So that's the news for now, other than being in Moncton with my grandparents. We had a nice supper with them when we got here, before going out with Steve later in the evening. We ended up going to see Zombieland, which was very enjoyable. Comparable to Shawn of the Dead, though I think Shawn is funnier. It was campy fun though, and definitely worth seeing. Woody Harrelson was awesome in it, and there is a cameo in the movie that is just hilarious. I won't name the cameo though, it would wreck the moment if you haven't seen it. It's great.

I will probably post again tomorrow to tell you of our Moncton exploits. I know, posts two days in a row? Unthinkable! I intend for it to happen though. Stay tuned :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Yup, it's turkey day again. What's funny is I've had two Thanksgiving dinners now, and no turkey at all. Lots of other deliciousness though!

Alan and I went over to dad's last night and had our first dinner with them. They knew we were having dinner with mom tonight too, so CJ decided to make lasagna instead of a turkey, so that we wouldn't have turkey twice in a row. Dinner was very good, as was dessert ( I <3 pumpkin pie), and it was good to have a nice visit with them :)

Dinner tonight was at mom's, and Rick's daughter Gwen joined us too, with her daughter Maya. Mom decided to make a ham instead of a turkey, which was delicious. And more pumpkin pie of course. Mom had also made a raisin pie, which I also like, and I took most of it home. Mom also gave me a big chunk of the ham to take home, so at some point this week I intend to make pea soup with it. Yum!

The only really big news from the last few days is that I finally took my motorcycle out on the road for the first time today. By out on the road, I mean off of the little side streets around my house, and onto the busy, main roads. As busy as they get on a holiday anyway. I drove around the neighbor hood a few times to get my nerves settled (haven't been on the bike for a week due to battery issues and rain), and then headed up to the gas station. The bike only needed $8 of gas, but now it's full so I can reset the trip meter and finally figure out how many kilometers I can get out of a tank. For those who don't know, motorcycles don't generally have gas gauges, so you have to judge the fullness of your tank by the distance you've traveled.

So it was just a quick trip around the neighborhood, then to the gas station and back, but it was a big step for me. These little trips are slowly building my skills and my confidence. I'd rather do it slowly and carefully like this than just try to take a massive trip all at once. I'm feeling really good about things, and will hopefully get out a bit more this week. I also learned that I need better gloves if I'm going to ride in these temperatures. It wasn't really cold out, but my hands were freezing even from a 10 minute trip.

Tomorrow I intend to get a cover for the bike, and I may go look at how much a warmer pair of gloves will cost me too.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Proving a point

So as most of you probably know, I enjoy bowling. I've been in a league on Sunday nights for four years now. I like to think I'm pretty decent at it. I was in two leagues for a while, and my average got pretty high while I was in two leagues, up to 103. Last year I was only in one, and my average dropped down to 97, which made me sad after finally breaking 100 the year before. So, I decided this year to join a second league again. I wanted one closer to home Sunday league is in Woodside, which is a fair trip from here. I don't mind making it because I adore my Sunday league-mates, but I decided that if I was going to do a second league, I wanted it closer to home.

So two weeks ago I went to a bowling alley over in the Halifax Shopping Center, which is like 5 minutes from my house, and just went to the counter and asked if they had any leagues still looking for people. The gentleman there said they did, and he could take my name, number and the nights I could bowl, and find a league for me. I told him I wanted Tuesday or Thursday nights. He asked if I was in any other leagues, and what my average in them. I told him I bowled in Woodside, and that my average last year had been 97.

This is when a surprising thing happened.

The guy looks me in the eye and says "Well you bowl in Woodside, so that's inflated", and then writes my average down as being 94. My face must have reflected the incredulity I was feeling, as he followed that up with a sympathetic look and said "Trust me, you'll see." I regained my composure, thanked him for taking my info and left, wondering if I was going to be sorry I'd signed up for a league at this alley. I was also definitely feeling like if I was going to bowl here, I was going to have to show them that my average is anything but inflated.

So I recieved a call from a league last week who told me they had a spot, and that they bowl Tuesday at 7. Tonight was my first night there. I was a little worried because of the attitude of the person I spoke to at the desk, but happily that seems to have been unfounded. The team I was on were all really friendly, and a bit rowdy, which is how I like my bowling. That's what my Sunday league is like, and it's so fun. They do seem a bit more competative than my Sunday team, but that's ok too, since I'm wanting to be in two leagues for the purpose of improving.

I started off the night bowling alright, with my first game being a 90. That is perfectly respectable, and I didn't expect the first game to be spectacular anyway. These were lanes I haven't bowled in since I was a kid doing tournaments, and every alley has a slightly different set up and feel to it, which takes some getting used to. I also had the nervousness of being the new girl in a club, which never helps.

My second game was a 102, which is a score I will never complain about. Anything 95+ is what I expect of myself, and that was at least enough that I felt I do actually have skill, not an inflated average.

The third game, I proved a point. I got 4 spares and a strike, and ended the game with a 124. Suck on that "oh that's inflated" guy. Tell me my average should be 94, and I end up bowling a 105 average. Of course, a 105 probably really is inflated, but that's ok. I just feel validated. I have skills, not a bowling alley that has easy-falling pins!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Checking in

Hello, hello. I don't have much to say, just figured I should write a post and let people know I'm not dead.

My week was pretty busy with work, which is a good thing because I sold a house this week, so yay! I can't say much about it for privacy reasons, but I'm happy to have a deal coming together, that's always a nice thing.

Yesterday Alan and I had a little date night, which was nice. We went to Mexico Lindo for supper, and rented The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I am not a fan of westerns, but I agreed to see it since Clint Eastwood is the inspiration for the main character in my much-beloved Dark Tower series of books. I love that character, so I figured that anything it was based on couldn't be that bad.

When we brought the movie up to the counter at Blockbuster, the cashier just about lost his mind. He couldn't stop freaking out about how excellent a movie it was. I mean he was seriously losing it, I thought he was going to wet his pants, he was so excited. That's a lot of build up, combined with all the fantastic reviews I've heard of this movie over my lifetime.

It wasn't terrible, but I didn't think it was fantastic. It has not, sadly, changed my general feelings about westerns. I really wanted to like it, but after 2 hours of it I was beginning to wonder if would ever end. Long movies that feel long are never a good thing in my mind. So, we can add this to my list of classic movies that everyone freaks out about me not having seen, that turn out to be less than stellar. I am just not a movie person, for whatever reason.

The only big thing was that I had the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's Run For The Cure this morning. My office has a team for it, and this is the second time I've participated in it. There were seven of us in it, 2 of them running, the rest of us walking (I was a walker). The weather was terrible today, but luckily the worst of the rain held off til after the event was finished, so it wasn't too bad. We went out for brunch at Saege afterwards. I had never been there before, and it was quite good.

My Sunday ended as it always does, with a night at the bowling alley. My team did well tonight, winning two games (out of three) and taking the points for total pinfall too. I bowled average, which is all you can ever ask for, and had a lot of fun with my friends. Overall, pretty good weekend :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dithering and grab bags

Hello, hello. I know, I have been a bad blogger, not posting for like a week. I haven't had much to say, honestly. Life was pretty consumed by work the last few days and over the weekend. It does not make for very interesting posting, especially since I can't really talk about work due to possible privacy issues =P

Today was a fun day though, I was out with Erin this afternoon. We had gone out with the intention of getting jeans, and keeping an eye out for potential Halloween costume pieces. If we can, we intend to go as 20's flappers, but Erin's back up plan is to go as Rainbow Bright, while I am thinking of perhaps She-Ra or Jem. I suspect that Jem will be easier to pull off.

Our first stop was actually before we hit the mall...the old Future Shop near Mic Mac Mall is currently housing a place called Halloween Distributors. We hadn't know it was there, Erin just spotted it as I was looking for a parking spot. It was not as exciting as we'd was mostly just pre-packaged costumes (titles starting with "sexy" for women, and the men's costumes all focused on breasts, beer and drugs), more so than costume pieces.

The one thing they did have that was nice is they had these lovely masks, the type you'd imagine for fancy costume balls with ladies holding them up on sticks. They were quite pretty, but I have no idea what kind of costume to make around something like that. I may have to think about that more though, as we had no luck finding flapper dresses.

We wandered the mall fairly aimlessly after that, just poking into every store we fancied. We ended up not really feeling like looking for jeans. The one thing I did get was hair dye! I have been wanting to dye my hair red again for a while now, and Erin agreed she can help me do it this weekend. I will post pics when I have red hair, I am eager.

After we were finished with the mall, we headed to Fabricville. Erin is wanting to take up sewing, and was looking for a simple dress pattern to make. We ended up being there for a very long the time we got to the counter with some fabric, Erin told the girl we had been dithering for an hour. I just love the word dithering, and I think I generally love doing anything that can be called dithering. Such a great word.

Erin ended up finding two patterns, one for a dress, and one for handbags, and we found some nice fabrics for her. As we walked over to the counter, I noticed a big basket full of paper bags, marked "Grab Bag $1.99".

I am a sucker for grab bags.

Jacki and I were in the mall once, and found grab bags in Ardene. They were $6 I think, and we each got one. They were awesome. Mine had a nice scarf in it, and a really pretty necklace. There was a cute little pair of fingerless gloves too. I can't remember what was in Jacki's, but I know she had fun with hers too.

So the question for me became "What's more fun, an Ardene grab bag, or a Fabricville grab bag?" The answer to this is probably pretty obvious. However, in one of those "you had to be there" moments, getting a Fabricville grab bag became a hilarious idea that had me in tears, and Erin laughing pretty hard, if only at my foolishness.

The results of a Fabricville grab bag were pretty much what you'd expect, but the hilarity was worth the $2.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not just about motorcycles

I promise I'll talk about things other than motorcycles least after I talk a little bit about motorcycles.

So dad came over last night to look at my bike and figure out what was wrong. It turns out nothing was wrong. It started instantly when dad tried. I felt a bit sheepish about dragging him out there.

We talked about what I did versus what dad did, and came to the conclusion that the problem might have been the choke. If you know nothing about chokes and engines, which I didn't, here's the quick run down. Most cars have fuel injection. This means that the car automatically gives the engine a bit of extra gas when it starts, to make it catch. Motorcycles do not generally do this automatically, that is what the choke is for. If the engine is cold and/or hasn't run for a while, you engage the choke when you start the engine to give it some extra gas, then release the choke once the engine is warmed up.

When I tried to start the bike on Sunday, it was early morning after a cold night and I assumed it would need choke, so I engaged it then tried to start. When dad started it he did it without the choke. He thinks that when I started it, it did not in fact need the choke, and that I ended up flooding the engine. So, another lesson learned - try to start the bike without choke first, don't default to using it. I also learned how to get the seat off of the bike, and how to get it onto, and off of, the center stand without help (Alan had to help me last time). So, I've missed 3 days I could have been biking, but many lessons were learned. I will get out on the bike tonight at least :)

Ok, time for non-bike things. There has not really been a lot going on, to be honest. I work, I do stuff at home, I go out with friends. That about sums it up. I should tell you about these great books I just read though. I just finished Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. This is the trilogy that starts with the Golden Compass, which I'm told was a terrible movie.

If the movie was terrible, then it in no way reflects the book. The book was great, and the series only got better as it went. Through most of the first and second books, you have a sense of where it's going, but there comes a moment when you really understand what the characters (and the author) are doing, and it is shocking. I felt as if I had actually been struck when I realized the scope of what was really going on.

The books are classified as young adult, but they are the same class of young adult books that Harry Potter belongs to, where the category doesn't really matter. They are fantastic regardless of your age. They are somewhat reminiscent of Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" series in theme and content, if you are familiar with those (if not, I recommend that series too).

The characters are well written, the world(s) are fascinating, and the story is original and intriguing. I don't think I've read anything like them before, and I highly recommend them. Go read some books, it's good for you!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Things never go as planned

The plan for the weekend had been to spend a ton of time getting comfortable on my motorcycle. Unfortunately, the universe had other plans for me.

As I said in the last post, the bike ran out of oil on my first ride. I had the bike running briefly to move it to a flat piece of driveway so I could get it on the center stand, but I didn't want to take it out with no oil, obviously. I bought a big 4 liter jug of oil and filled it up. To my surprise, it took the entire 4 liters and had room for more. I had no idea a little motorcycle could use that much oil. I knew the bike was leaking at least a small amount of oil, so I had already been thinking that it might be good to let it sit overnight and see how bad the leak was. Combine that with fairly strong winds, and I decided it might be best not to take a ride that day. Alan and I had driven out to Bayer's Lake and the winds were pulling the car around, and I was a bit nervous about taking that on when I'm so inexperienced. I told myself that I would go for a ride first thing Sunday morning instead.

So I woke up this morning, all excited to finally go for another ride. Got dressed and all geared up, headed out to my motorcycle and flicked all the right switches. Nothing. The engine didn't start. It made some wheezy noises at me as it tried to turn over, but nothing happened. Now, I don't know a lot about how motorcycles work. I thought maybe it had something to do with the fact that the oil had been at pretty much zero the day before, and I had had it running anyway for a couple of minutes. I was afraid maybe I'd hurt something in the engine by doing this. So, I did what any clever girl would do, and called my father.

Dad assured me that the oil had nothing to do with it not starting and that I hadn't hurt it. He asked if I had made sure that I had the choke engaged, because it was cold out and the bike needs the choke when it's cold. I was fairly certain that I had done this, because I knew that, but I tried it again just in case. I am inexperienced, so it's possible that I had in fact forgotten to do that. I tried the choke in every possible position, and it still wouldn't start, just made those sad noises and refused to turn over. Dad said that the next most likely option was the battery.

Again, knowing very little about the mechanics, I had to ask if you could jump start a bike like a car, and if so, could you do it with a car or did it need to be another bike. Dad said you can do it from a car, the batteries are the same, but that I would have to take off either the side panels, or the seat, to get at the hook ups. He told me how to do this, and Alan and I went off to tackle the task, toolkit in hand.

Well, I got the first side panel off no problem, while Alan worked on the one on the other side. Unfortunately, my side panel was not the one we needed, there was no access to anything under it. Alan got the other side off while I replaced the first one, though a little knob that was used to hold it in place came off when he pulled off the panel. It's a minor detail though, the panel will go back on fine even without it. With that panel off, we could see the red connector for the battery, but not the black one, so we assumed that meant we had to get the seat off to get at both connectors.

Try as we might, we could not figure out how to remove the seat from the bike. Dad had told me what to look for to get it off, but I didn't see what he said to look for. There were no bolts holding it on that I could tell. There was a hook on each side of the seat, so it looked like you should just be able to jiggle the seat around a bit and get it off that hook, but that didn't work, for whatever reason.

Dad wasn't going to be home this afternoon, so I didn't bother calling him again, I just emailed him and told him what happened. Long story short, no bike ride again today. I know we'll get it fixed, it's just disappointing. On the bright side, I'm learning all sorts of things. I know how to fill up my oil now (as well as how to check it's level), and how to remove and replace my side panels, and where my battery is. This is all useful stuff that I wanted to learn anyway, so it's not all bad. I just don't want the riding season to be over before I get on the road!

Friday, September 18, 2009


I think that this has been the longest week of my life. As I posted previously, I bought a motorcycle, but couldn't bring it home right away. Since I was relying on the kindness of others, namely dad and his friend Glen (he owns a trailer), to get the bike home, it had to wait until Thursday. The week has consisted mostly of me moping and wishing the bike was here.

Finally Thursday came, and after a long day of waiting, I headed out to dad's when he got off work, and we hitched up the trailer and headed to Truro. It's only 45 minutes to an hour to get out there, so it wasn't a bad drive at all. We got there in good time, and got the registration signed over to me from the dealer. They helped dad load it onto the trailer, gave me the keys, and we headed home. I didn't panic at all about some silly disaster happening, like the ties on the trailer coming loose and the bike flying onto the highway. Ok, maybe I panicked a little bit.

Dad had to laugh at me on the way home because I was literally twitching and fidgeting the whole ride home. I am very lucky he's a patient man. The sad part was that due to some work obligations, it would be after dark before I would have free time, and I'm not comfortable enough yet to drive at night, so riding would have to wait for Friday.

We got the bike back to my house safely, of course, and parked it in the driveway. Then we promptly dropped the bike on the ground three times in a row. Yes, we did this on purpose. Dad was showing me how you lift the bike up if it tips over, without throwing out your back and/or needing multiple people. It's rough, but I can straighten it back up now. One more thing I have to repeatedly thank my father for.

Again, due to work and other obligations, I could not immediately jump on the motorcycle when I woke up this morning. I finally got to go for a ride this afternoon. I'm posting some pictures at the end of my bike and me on it. It was very exciting, but alas it was also very quickly over. I was just driving the quiet streets around my neighborhood, and very quickly realized that even that is testing my level of comfort. The bike is a lot more powerful than the ones we used in the training course, and I still have to spend enough time thinking about the mechanics of it that I felt a bit worried about meeting up with other cars. In addition to that, my oil light was on the entire time, which concerned me.

So after a few loops of the neighborhood I headed home again, where I promptly dropped the bike again. I can only imagine how hilarious I must have looked if any of the neighbors happened to catch me sitting on the ground next to my horizontal motorcycle. My driveway is on a bit of a hill, and I was going slow trying to get positioned right to park. I ended up stalling it, and the lack of forward momentum threw off my balance and I wasn't able to hold the bike up. No worries, I am perfectly fine. I had enough warning and control to lay it down gently, without pinning myself under it or anything. Thanks to the lesson from dad yesterday, and a bit of help from Alan, I got the bike standing again, no harm done.

Dad told me how to check my oil and what kind I have to get to replace it, so hopefully tomorrow I can address the oil light issue and go for another ride. I think my next trip out will be to a parking lot up the street from us that is empty on weekends. I definitely need a bit more practice there before spending any length of time on the streets. I'm taking it slow and easy, I'd rather be safe and careful than instantly cruising the highways. I intend to be having fun on my motorcycle for a long time, so there's no need to rush and do something stupid! I'm too cautious for that =P

Here's some pictures of my new baby :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Being happy is nice

Today is awesome. As of today, I am the proud owner of a 1982 Honda Nighthawk 650cc motorcycle. You can see the original ad (at least as long as it's up) here: HONDA 650 Nighthawk in TRURO, NS - AutoTrader There are good pictures of it there. I will post my own pictures when I actually bring the bike home, which will be later this week. It's in Truro, and I don't feel comfortable doing that long of a drive yet, so dad is going to talk to a friend of his who has a trailer, and we'll bring it home some evening this week that works for him.

So yeah, I'm ridiculously happy. Dad came and got me around 10 this morning and we drove out to Truro to look at the bike. We went on dad's bike of course, so I got a good ride. Not having a bike of my own, and not living with dad, I haven't gotten to go for a long bike ride in a while. It was all on the main highway though, so we got to Truro pretty quick and found the bike shop in good time.

Dad looked it over when we got there, as he knows all the mechanical stuff. There were a couple of small things, but dad said they were only an hour's worth of work, and $15 worth of parts, so no biggie. Nothing you wouldn't expect to find on a 27 year old bike he said, and I trust him. If I can trust anyone to know about motorcycles, it's dad! We also made sure the bike fit me. I could reach all the levers and pedals, and I could have my feet flat on the ground, so that was fine. The salesperson came out and started it for us too, so we could hear the engine and exhaust. It has an aftermarket exhaust, so you never know what those will end up sounding like, but it was fine. I didn't want one of those obnoxiously loud exhausts, so I was relieved.

With all my criteria met, I paid them for the bike (and I didn't pay what it was advertised at), and then sadly had to leave it there. I'm going to call them Monday to get the MVI number and the VIN, so I can get it registered right away, in hopes of being able to drive it as soon as I get it home. Dad is going to let me know tomorrow night what day we can get it. I'm a bit antsy, as I'm sure you can imagine.

After this, dad and I stopped to get some lunch. It was my treat, as I feel a free lunch is the least I owe my father for taking all this time out of his day to help me, and he has answered endless questions up to this point too. After that we headed home, but happily did not go back using the boring main highway! We took all the side roads and secondary highways out to the Musquodoboit Valley, then to dad's house in Lake Echo. It was just a gorgeous day and a great drive.

For those of you that have never been on a motorcycle, it is an entirely different experience than riding in a car. It's like the difference between looking out your living room window at the ocean, and actually standing on the beach. When you're on the bike the things you see just seem so much closer and more real, and you can hear and smell everything too. For example, we drove over a little wooden bridge somewhere, and you could hear the water running beneath you, and smell the difference in the air near the water. You just don't get that in the car. I'm sure those kind of things don't make a difference to everyone, but I just find you experience so much more of the places you travel then when you're in the car.

I think my day was pretty much summed up by a moment I had as we were driving home, not too far out of Truro. The road was empty except for us, the sun was shining and the view was incredible, and I thought to myself "Sometimes, life is awesome."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Home again

Hello again, sorry for the lack of posting. This weekend has been a combination of vacation recovery and catching up with things at home, which has left me with not a lot of time for updates.

The trip home on Friday from Fredericton was uneventful for the most part. We did have a slight delay at the airport, as their was some construction going on on an overpass. While we were stopped on the highway, before we could see what the delay was, Alan said he was convinced it was another burned out truck. I wouldn't have been surprised if that was true.

After we got home nd got the car unpacked, we went and picked up the cats from the place we had them boarded. They were, of course, terrified to see us. It's nice to feel like you were missed =P After much cajoling and comforting we finally got them packed in the car and home. They adjusted pretty quickly to being home again though, and remembered that they like us.

The rest of Friday was just relaxing and being glad to be home. Most of the last few days have been that, though we've been out to see friends too. We went out for supper with Steve on Saturday since he's in town, and hung out at Gord's for a while after that. Yesterday we went over to see Erin's new place. She's got a very nice apartment in Dartmouth, it should be very good for her there. I also went back to work yesterday and did an open house in the afternoon.

A fair part of this afternoon was spent getting the kitchen ready for Alan and dad to do some work on it tomorrow. They're going to reframe the wall we tore out like a year and a half ago, so we'll have insulation there again this winter, how novel! After that was done we went out for supper with mom, which was very nice. Thanks again for dinner mom :)

So that's all the news from the last few days. It's back to the office tomorrow, the resumption of real life after the vacation. I will post again when I have more news!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

This is not where I expected to be...

So we had a great day with Jacki and John in Toronto yesterday. When we got there, we chatted and got caught up, and got to see their apartment. It's very nice, I think they've got a really good lace. Jacki showed us around her neighborhood a little later. She's got incredible little shops and restaurants all over the place around her building, and it's on top of a mall to boot. I got a couple of cute pairs of earrings at one of the places we went.

When John got home we went for supper at this awesome place called the Pickle Barrel. I had never heard of it before but I guess it's part of a chain. They had a huge menu, and every type of food under the sun. It was all really good. After dinner we went to a comedy club that I can't remember the name of. It was amateur night, and we saw 5 different comedians, who were then followed up by one of the writers from the Mercer Report. The first guy and the last two were really good, but the few in the middle were pretty bad. That said, over all it was really fun, and it's something I hadn't done before. We had a really good night, all told.

Unfortunately, we had to go to bed really early, as we had to be up and on the road early this morning if we were to get to Moncton at a reasonable hour as planned. We were in the car by 7am, and completely avoided the rush hour in Toronto. Things went exactly as planned and we were making good time...until we hit Montreal.

Remember when I was posting about going to World Con, and how I had previously had nothing but bad experiences in Montreal? Yeah, happened again. I've decided that traveling *to* Montreal and spending time there, but trying to pass *through* Montreal is asking for nothing but trouble.

Just outside the city we ran into a massive traffic jam. Alan managed to find a great detour through the town, but we lost an hour over all (we weren't the only ones trying to find another way through the city, traffic was awful). We later heard on the radio that the problem had been a truck that had gone through a guard rail, hit an overpass, and caught on fire. So that was random.

So after our long detour and lost time, we managed to make a bit of time back. Then, just outside of the exit to Riviere de Loups, we ran into another traffic jam. This one happily only took up another 15 minutes, but as we got to the front of it, we saw what was the problem - another truck on fire. I don't understand how two trucks could have caught on fire on the same day, on our route home.

Then, to make things really perfect, there was extended highway construction on the last stretch of highway from Quebec into New Brunswick. The long and short of it is that we lost so much time with the traffic jams and construction, that we came to the realization that there was no way we were going to make it to Moncton at anything resembling a decent hour. Based on what the GPS told us was the remaining distance, I think it would have been 2am before we made it. We just did not have it in us to drive that long.

So, Alan made a couple of phone calls, first to his mother. She had gotten us the room in Niagara with reward points, and she said we were ok to do the same thing to get a hotel room tonight so we could get off the roads before we passed out. Alan then called and got us a hotel reservation in Fredericton, another 2 hours from where we currently were. We were lucky the room was going to be free, because the rate on the room would otherwise have been $179/night. I was stunned at that, and was looking forward to seeing what kind of room we'd get for that money.

Two hours later, we get into town, and Alan checked us in. The person at the desk gave us another free upgrade, for whatever reason. I could not even imagine what an upgrade to a $179/night room would be. So we walk in to our room, and ours jaws simultaneously dropped, I think.

We aren't in a room, we're in a suite...we have a huge sitting room, with the bedroom separated by French doors off on the side. We have a full bathroom off the sitting room, and anothe ensuite bathroom in the bedroom. I have never even seen a hotel room with two bathrooms. I didn't know they existed outside of ridiculous places like Beverly Hills. The furniture in the suite is incredible too. There's these wooden tables with enamel inlays, and this incredible carved shelf that I want to take home with me.

So yeah, the night has not ended at all where or how I thought it would. This room is nuts. I feel very spoiled, and a little afraid that someone will realize that we don't belong in places this fancy, and that they put us in the wrong room. Until they do though, I'm going to pass out in this king sized bed, so I can finish the drive home tomorrow. Good night!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The only hotel in Niagara Falls with no view...

...and it's the same one I'm staying in. I am seriously stunned that there could be a hotel this close to the falls and not have a view. It's weird.

The good news is that I already saw the falls today, so it's ok that my room has no view. Our original plan had been to go to Niagara Falls on Monday, but after some discussion we decided it made more sense for us (me, Alan, and his parents and grandmother) to go on Tuesday, and then Alan and I would spend the night here before going to Toronto on Wednesday to visit Jacki and John. This made a lot more sense than driving up to Ontario and then back to to NY on Monday, then back this way again on Wednesday.

So we drove up to the New York side of the falls this morning, and started our sight-seeing. The place we went is called Goat Island (apparently after a single goat that lived through the winter on the island when all the rest of the herd died), and from it you can see both the American Falls, and the more recognized Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.

I have to say, the Falls are really impressive. I got some lovely pictures, but the cable to download the pics to my computer is buried in a suitcase somewhere in the car and I'm too tired to dig it out right now. I had never been here before, and I'm glad I've seen it now. We had a really nice day just seeing the sights.

The real highlight of the day for me was a boat trip we took on the Maid in the Mist. The boat leaves from a dock down the river a ways from the bottom of the falls, and goes close to the bottom of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. While the falls are gorgeous to see from the park above them, you don't get a real feel for the intensity of them from that viewpoint. To be on the boat at the bottom of the falls, rocking in the waves, the spray from the falls soaking everything, and the roar of the water falling drowning out everything else was just a completely different experience. It was just an incredible feeling.

After we had dinner with Alan's family, we parted ways as they went back to Geneva and we found our hotel on the Ontario side. Alan's new GPS was very helpful in finding our hotel...I think he's loving that thing. I think that overall we had a really good time in NY, and it was good to see his family. I always enjoy the time we spend with them, I'm lucky to have the in-laws I have! That said, I'm glad we're getting started on going home, this was a good enough length for a trip for me. I'm looking forward to getting home to my own bed, and cuddling my kittens.

Tomorrow we head to Toronto to visit Jacki and John, then Thursday we make the long trip to Moncton to spend a night with my grandparents. Friday is the big day when at last we are home! I will post more as I have things to share :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More from New York

We've been keeping nicely busy here in New York. Yesterday Art's brother and his brother's girlfriend came over, and we packed the family into the RV for some sightseeing. We went over to a town called Naples, which is part of the wine-making region here. We didn't go there for wine though, we went for their famous grape pies. We went to a little house where the front door has been converted to a counter, where they take your order and bring the pies and tarts you ask for. I believe it was called "Cindy's Grape Pies"...pretty self explanatory. We got a grape pie, a peach pie, and a raspberry pie, as well as some grape filled cookies. We were saving the pie for supper, but snacked on the cookies as we continued driving. They were fantastic, I've never had such good grape filling. It tasted like grape juice, but less artificial and better.

From there we went on to a little farmer's market and picked up a few things to bring back home. They had some great looking produce, I picked out a basket of fresh peaches that looked excellent (and turned out to be as tasty as they look). We also picked up some honey from a local places called Wixson's that was selling there. Wixson's is a place Alan and I had visited a few years ago while he still lived in New York, so we were happy to get some of their stuff.

The next stop on our tour was a ways outside of town. The area we're in is known as the Finger Lake region, which has 5 very large lakes cut out by glaciers, so they are all very long in the north-south direction, but fairly narrow in the east-west. Most of the lakes are bordered by very high hills on the east and west banks. The lake we were on is Canandaigua Lake, and along one of the hill ridges on that lake they've put in a wind farm, with lots of new windmills.

Art took us up this long, winding dirt road to the ridge with the windmills. It was so steep that we had not actually been sure if the RV would make it up, but it did. You could drive right up to the base of the wind towers. I've seen them before of course, but never up so close. It was incredible to stand right under them, they're so large it's almost unbelievable. I was actually getting vertigo looking up at them. In an odd way, it didn't even feel real, it was like I was looking at a movie screen. I think it's just because you never see something so large like that in real life..huge propellers and motors that look like plane engines, but on a massive scale, are just not something that are part of your everyday sights. It was hard to wrap your head around.

The other thing that struck me was how quiet they were. Now, it wasn't a particularly windy day, so maybe that was part of it, but the only noise you could hear from them was a slight "whoosh" as a blade went by. It was such a tiny noise for such a massive object.

Once we were done gawking at the windmills, we headed back towards home, taking a scenic drive up the shore of Canandaigua Lake. When we got to the town of Canandaigua, we pulled up on a wharf and parked to eat supper overlooking the lake. When we got through supper, we had one of the grape pies we had bought earlier. They were just as excellent as the cookies had been...I can't believe I'd never thought of grape pies before, they're wonderful. Jacki, you need to learn to make grape things.

After dinner and pie it was pretty late so we headed home for the night. All in all, it was a very enjoyable day. Alan's parents have a knack for finding neat places to go and fun ways to spend the day.

Today was pretty quiet and simple. We slept in a bit, and then Alan and I headed over to an outlet mall about a half hour from here to see if we could find some deals. Alan found a very nice leather jacket at the Wilson's outlet store. He got it for $130, down from an original price of about $300. There were several coats I liked too, but I have a leather jacket already, so I contented myself with a new wallet.

We also got some good deals at the Reebok outlet store. They were doing buy one, get the second half price, so Alan and I both got a new pair of running shoes. They were cheap even without getting one pair half price. We got the two pairs for $100 together...I don't think we could have gotten one pair of them for that price at home, so we were very pleased. Alan also got a pair of jeans from Old Navy for $6.50...I mostly can't believe he only got one pair at that price, I'd have gotten more. That store was so busy though, I didn't really want to stay to find some myself. I'm kind of regretting that though, so I may talk Alan into going back on a less busy day than Saturday. Overall, some good deals were had!

I think that's all the news for now, except that we've decided to extend our vacation for an extra day for the purpose of visiting Jacki & John in Toronto on our way home. The place we have our cats boarded was ok with keeping them an extra day for us. We won't get to spend much time with them since we have to leave early the next day, but we can at least say hi and catch up a little bit, and see their new apartment. So mom, we'll be Friday, not Thursday, ok? I will post more as there's news.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


It has been a busy day. It was nice and sunny this morning, unlike yesterday when it rained, so we decided to go do some outdoorsy stuff.

Alan's parents have a few acres of land outside of town here, with a creek running through it. We went out there this morning, and did some hiking around and exploring. The creek has a lovely set of little waterfalls in the part that is on their land. It was really beautiful this morning, and I took several pictures of it. This is one of the nicer ones.

We had a really good time just poking around and exploring. I got to play archaeologist and point out chert deposits I found (a type of rock commonly used for making stone tools) and looked for artifacts (didn't find any). Alan's mom loves to ask me about that kind of stuff, and seemed to really want me to find a buried village on her land. I was sorry to disappoint her.

I got a special treat after this, as Alan's mom had driven her motorcycle out to the acreage. She was really pleased to discover that I recently got my licence, as both her and her husband are avid bikers. She was very quick to volunteer her little 250cc for me to go out on. While I am not yet feeling comfortable with taking a bike out on the road, there is a school across the road from their acreage, and she drove the bike over there and let me practice a bit in the parking lot. Alan took my camera and snapped a few pictures, so now I can prove that I do in fact drive motorcycles now! Here's me in all my gear, I think this is going to be my new profile pic for Facebook and Twitter.

I did a few laps of the parking lot, and Alan took some action shots while I did that too. It was a lot of fun to just putter around a bit. I was really pleased to find that I have not forgotten how to do it in the two weeks since the course. I was also happy to find that I am capable of going faster than 20km/hour, and can shift higher than third gear. A little more practice and I might actually feel road ready. My biggest obstacle at this point is that I am still paying so much attention to how to actually run the bike, that I'm not paying enough attention to things like blinkers and looking in my mirrors. I won't be going out on the roads until I have the mechanics of it down enough that I can pay attention to the roads around me. That day is a lot closer than it was a month ago though!

After I finished a few laps Alan and I went and found some ice cream, then headed back to the house. It was Alan's turn to have fun now! He and Art, his step father, got all geared up to head out into the lake for diving. I can't claim that Alan had all the fun though, as I got to go out on one of the jet skis while they were diving. And to put mom's worries to rest, not only was I wearing a life jacket, the life jacket had a radio built in, so I could call for help if I needed to. Alan's mom was on the wharf with the other radio in case I called. I was perfectly fine though...the jet skis are a lot less scary now that I'm a biker.

But yeah, back to Alan's fun. He and Art had gone out with the intention of checking out the drop off in the lake. The lake here is very deep at it's center, and the change in depth is fairly abrupt, going quickly from being about 20 feet deep down to 80. I think the deepest point in the lake is around 600 feet. They had just wanted to have a look at the drop off, because it looks very steep from the depth finder in the boat.

Their first attempt they just tried to swim out to the drop off from the wharf. It turned out to be further away from the wharf than they had anticipated, and it was too tiring to get out far enough. They happened to head back to the wharf at the same time I was coming back with the jet ski. After a few minutes discussion on the wharf, they decided to go out to the drop off in the boat and dive from there.

We ended up delaying a bit as Art's two sisters and nephew were coming over to the house, so we waited for them. Adding me, Alan's mom and grandmother, and we had a boatful heading out! We found a good spot where the depth started increasing, laid anchor and the boys headed in. Those of us on the boat just chatted a bit and watched Art's sister Paula goofing off on one of the jet skis (everyone else was on the boat).

Art and Alan came back up after about 20 minutes. Apparently the drop off had not been as spectacular as hoped...Alan said it was about a 15 degree incline, so not a gaping chasm of doom or anything. What had shocked them both though, was that the floor of the lake at deeper depths was nothing but zebra muscles. Alan said they went on as far as you could see, and were laid out in bands of of white and grey that looked almost painted, they were so precise and even. He couldn't believe how many there were. Unfortunately, he did not think to take his underwater camera out with him. I am trying to convince him that they should go out again to take pictures. Other than that, they said there was nothing of interest. They were glad to have gotten a bit of diving in just the same though.

The rest of the evening was just spent with the family. We just had a relaxed supper of pizza, and chatted til people headed home. Alan was pretty tired too, from the diving and hiking this morning, so we headed to our home away from home, and here I am now at the computer! I am pretty tired myself, but it's been a fun day :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

GPS fun

So Alan got a GPS from his parents last night, for his birthday. Of course, we had to try it out today.

Our plan had been to go into the town of Canandaigua today anyway, and to take a trip over to the acreage his parents own. Alan programmed the GPS with our destination, and off we went. The GPS performed just fine, though it did take us on some routes that Alan thought were a bit strange. Either way, it got us where we were going.

In my typical way though, I got to thinking about the GPS and how it could be made more fun. The first way is that it has a little car on the screen that drives around over the map. They totally need to make that customizable to look like your car. If I were designing a GPS product for the market, that is the first thing I would do. People would love that. With ideas like this, I don't know why I'm not rich.

The other idea sprung up while Alan was testing the GPS...he kept taking roads other than the ones that the map wanted him to, to see how quickly it would re-calculate routes and how well it could problem-solve. So the GPS would be announcing "Turn right onto County Road 16" or whatever, and Alan would turn left, or keep going straight, that kind of thing. It would then announce "Re-calculating" and then quickly give us new instructions.

After Alan had ignored it's instructions three consecutive times, I got thinking about how that GPS must be getting annoyed. It keeps working so hard, and Alan keeps ignoring it. It must be wondering why it took this job. Then I got thinking how fabulous it would be if the voice on the GPS was the voice of the computer in Portal. For those that don't know, Portal is a computer game. The main character in the game, other than yourself, is an artificial intelligence computer that is at least slightly insane. The game is excellent, and the voice over even more so. It makes the most hilarious, passive-agressive and downright crazy comments about every action you do in the game, in this friendly female voice. If you have played this game, you will instantly be able to understand the humor in having that voice as your GPS voice over. If you have not, you will probably be bored by the rest of this blog post. Ah well, it's my blog, and I want to share my funny (to me) thoughts.

So with this in mind, the rest of the drive became a game in my head of "replace the real voice over with what the computer from Portal would say". So Alan skips the first instruction, and I hear the computer saying "You've missed the turn Alan. I'm very disappointed." After the next deliberately skipped instruction, it would be "I could almost think this is intentional now." The third would be something like "Why did you want a GPS anyway, Alan?" After the fourth I think it would get more threatening, and would certainly make a reference as to how you're not getting any cake this way.

If you have played Portal, you will know how fun this game probably was. If you haven't played Portal, I suggest that you do, then go get a GPS and play this game. It will be worth it, I promise. Portal is a great game even if you don't have a GPS.

The downside of this game is that I am fairly certain now that I will never be able to be in the car with that GPS without hearing the Portal computer. Every missed turn, I will hear that crazy lilting voice singing "You missed the turn but I am still alive." You'd be giggling if you knew the song, trust me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Hello America....we meet again"

I said as we drove through Calais after crossing the American border. Alan thought this was funny and laughed at me.

So yes, I'm in New York now, typing in the comfort of the ridiculously nice RV Alan's parents bought, and which they are letting us use as our home while we stay with them for the next week or so.

The hurricane on Sunday was completely overblown. The reporters on the weather channel had been going nuts with dire predictions and warnings (i.e. telling people in condo buildings they should wait out the storm in the lobby rather than on higher floors). We did definitely get a lot of rain and a few areas did have some flooding, but on the evening news the only footage they had to show was of a single fallen tree. They showed that footage at least 6 times, I wish I was exaggerating. The storm did leave us a lovely sunset at least, as the sun tried to peek through the clouds as it was setting. I was driving over to Steve's house to visit him, and there was a break in the clouds with a beam of sunlight shining through, like the hand of something holy reaching down to bless the earth. It was gorgeous.

With no real damage reported, we decided to assume our house was fine, and to leave for New York on Monday morning, as was the original plan. We left Moncton at about 7:30 in the morning. The trip was largely uneventful, and we arrived in Geneva, NY only a half hour later than Alan had predicted, which was not bad considering we made a few more pit stops than we had expected. We took turns driving all day, though I'm pretty sure Alan did more than I did...during one of my turns my phone started ringing and I ended up having to let Alan drive so I could get some work stuff cleared up. It is a fact that as soon as I try to take time off, my phone rings off the hook.

All in all, it took us 14.5 hours to make the trip from Moncton. The worst part of it was not the distance (though I admit that many hours in a car is not fun on any level), but the lack of air conditioning in our car. It had been raining in the morning when we left, but it was much clearer in the afternoon, so our car was like a sauna. We were quite relieved when the sun started going down and it cooled down again.

Alan's family were, of course, very glad to see us when we got here. Having gotten in so late we didn't spend a lot of time with them though. They showed us around our accomodations, and we caught up for about half an hour, by which time Alan and I were nodding off on the couch, so we said our good nights and passed out.

We are much refreshed today, though we're taking it pretty easy after the long trip. Alan had a school paper he had to finish writing, which he did this afternoon (so yay, I can have my laptop back for important things like blogging!), and I took a walk in the sun for a while. I think Alan is in the house right now, visiting with his grandmother. I think I will go join him, and I'll be back here writing when we do some interesting things to tell you about! :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blogging from Moncton

Wow, my blog is getting very well traveled...first posts from Montreal, now from Moncton. I feel so worldly ;)

So yes, I'm here in Moncton. This is a stopover on our trip to New York. The original plan was that we would stay here overnight, and head out tomorrow morning. We've changed plans, however, because of Hurricane Bill. We decided that we'd rather wait another night in Moncton and see if the hurricane is bad enough to have damaged our house. We'd rather be 3 hours away if we have to get home than 15 in New York.

So we had a good trip here. The cats had to be dropped off at The Cat's Inn early this morning. We've boarded them there before, they've got a nice place and treat the cats well. My cats don't realize that though, and were not pleased at all with being left. Alan and I both have the scratch marks to prove it. They'll forgive us for it eventually, I'm sure.

The drive itself was uneventful, there really wasn't much traffic at all. Most of the vehicles we did see had out of province plates, so I think all the tourists were heading out before the hurricane hits. It made for nice driving though, and we got to Moncton in good time.

We spent a nice afternoon relaxing with my grandparents, and then went out to a movie with our friend Steve after supper. We went to see District 9, which was pretty good. I think I would be raving about it quite a bit more if I had been able to watch it. It made unfortunate use of the "handy cam" type filming, which makes me ill, so I had to spend most of the movie looking away from the screen. It made it hard to get immersed in it. It was a good movie though, if you don't get bothered by that kind of filming, go see it.

That's all the news for today...we'll see tomorrow how bad the hurricane actually ends up being!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Slow week

Hi guys, sorry for the lack of the title implies, it has been a really slow week. I don't know if I'm still burnt out from the weekend or what, but I have not had the energy to do much lately. I don't think the heat is helping, it's so hot I can barely move. We can't's either rain for weeks, or oppressive heat.

The only big news is that the family piano is now at my house. We have a beautiful antique piano, I think it's like 120 years old or something ridiculous like that (my sister can correct me in the comments if I'm off). I say it's beautiful, but I have a tendency to love old, impractical things. My sister is a fantastic piano player, I've never done more than dabble with it, but I do enjoy it. Our piano is not one a professional would want to play, but I've always loved it.

My dad has had it for several years now, in his basement. I had said quite some time ago that I would like to have it moved to my place at some point. It happened this week because dad wants to renovate his basement, which means getting the piano out of it. The place I called to have it moved by were very quick, picking it up Monday afternoon, and dropping it off to us on Tuesday morning. Now I just have to get it tuned, and get some of our old music books back from dad so I have something to play.

I was worried about my cats harming the piano, as they have scratched other wooden surfaces, but I think they're scared of it. When it was first moved to the house they wouldn't go near it. A few hours later, I heard a few random keys get plunked, so I assume one of them tried to jump up on it. However, the sound seems to have terrified them, and I haven't seen either of them go near it since, nor heard any other random plunkings. It is rare that my cats refuse to go near something they could wreck, so I'm quite pleased with this result.

The only other real news is I'm going away on Saturday. We're off to visit Alan's family in the States for a bit. I'll be getting ready for the over the next couple days, getting laundry and packing done, that kind of stuff. Seeing as that's not particularly exciting, I probably won't have much to say for the next couple days, but hopefully the vacation will yield some stories.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Motorcycles are still awesome

My apologies for not posting yesterday. I was so exhausted after a day of riding motorcycles in extreme heat while wearing black leather, jeans and a helmet, that I barely knew my own name by the end of the day. Most of it was heat exhaustion, but there was a fair amount of just plain old physical tiredness too. I have to say, I had no idea just how tiring driving a motorcycle could be.

We spent yesterday learning the basics, from "how do you turn the bike on?", to learning to shift, do turns and do figure 8's without knocking over all the pylons. I have so much more respect now for what goes into driving these things, it's incredible. It's much more physical than regular driving...there's no power steering to turn the wheel for you, you are physically moving the front tire when you do slow speed maneuvers (not like at higher speeds where a lot of it is in the leaning). The thing that hurts the most though, after 2 days of this, are my hands.

Overall, I drove somewhere between 30 and 35km this weekend, and never got higher than 2nd gear. I'd say about 90% of it was in first gear, and on a motorcycle, you ride the clutch in first gear a lot more than you do in a car. The clutch is a lever on the left handlebar, like the hand brake on a bicycle. So I was clenching on the clutch for the majority of the time spent on the bike. My thumb is so sore, it is ridiculous.

However, all the pain is worth it. A lot of the time I was concentrating so hard on getting things right that I would forget what I was doing, but then I'd have these moments of "oh my god, I'm driving a motorcycle!" It was so fun, I can't even describe it.

This morning they taught us emergency braking and swerving to get around unexpected obstacles. It was pretty easy compared to the complicated low speed maneuvers we had to do yesterday (and we got to drive faster, 20km/hour!). I was still pretty exhausted from yesterday, so I was glad that the morning was relatively easy.

After lunch we started the testing. First came the written test, which was ridiculously easy. If you had a pulse during the class, you could pass the written test. The practical test was another matter entirely. Two of the guys in my class already had their beginner's license (they were doing the course for insurance purposes), and they said that the DMV road test for a motorcycle license was essentially prove you can start the bike, and do a figure 8. I could have passed that test with what I learned yesterday morning. The safety course test was a whole other story.

It consisted of 5 different exercises, some of them timed. Now, I hate timed things. They panic me. You should see me trying to play video games that have timed tasks...I'm freaking out while I try to do them, even if I have way more than enough time to complete them. Knowing that some of the tasks were timed had me feeling pretty queasy while we were setting up. Even when they were explained to us, and I knew I had the skills to do them, I was panicked that I wouldn't be able to complete them in the time given (which we weren't actually told, btw). We also would not be allowed to redo tasks, and weren't told as we did them whether or not we'd passed them.

The first task was definitely the worst for me. I got through it ok, but I had no idea if I'd done it in time. I'd also had a pretty shaky start, having to put my foot to the ground a few times as I tried to get around the first corner. The worst was that at the end, we had to shift up to second gear, then back down the first as we came to a stop. The gear shift is a pedal on your left foot. To go to first, you put your foot on top of the pedal and push down. When you are in 1st and want to go to 2nd, you have to put your foot under the pedal and push it up. So I'm in 1st, put my foot under the pedal and shift up to 2nd. Then, I need to shift back down to 1st. I go to move my foot back on top of the pedal...and fail. My boot got stuck. I managed not to panic and did eventually get it free and stopped in time, but I was sure that in my panic I had slowed down too much and took too long. I was pretty nervous about whether or not I'd failed the task due to the time limit, despite having sucessfully done all the maneuvers.

The other tasks weren't bad at all, even when they were timed. The first exercise was the hardest of them anyway, and getting through it restored a bit of my confidence and soothed my nerves a bit, since everything else was so much easier. I felt pretty good about these four, but didn't know if the first task could make or break me.

So after all the test we had to wait a bit while the head instructor tallied up our marks. The two assistant instructors stayed with us and answered questions we had. It was a pretty nervous group of people there, because while the pass rate is high, there are often a couple of fails. So the head instructor comes back out of his office a few minutes later, and says they consider the pass rate to be a reflection of the instructors, which means that they must be great instructors, because everyone passed! There wasn't any cheering, but a lot of relieved faces and smiles (I was one of them).

He did take us all in one by one and go over our test results. He told me that you could lose a maximum of 11 points, and the average was 7 or 8. I had only lost 5 points, and all 5 of them were on the first exercise! I am perfectly fine with this, because I know the first exercise reflected my nerves more than my abilities, as I'm confident I can do the things that were required. I had done similar exercises in the class without any real issues. I was just nervous and flubbed it up a bit in the test.

So I am now the very proud owner of a motorcycle beginner's license, which I can trade in after 30 days to get my full license. I will not longer be a plain old class 5 driver! Alan is jealous that I know how to drive something he doesn't...I am sure he'll be taking the course next year. It was so fun, and I am so proud of myself for doing this, as it was very intimidating, and I tend to put things like that off.

I also need to put in a plug for Saftey Services Nova Scotia, the people who put on the course. The instructors were great, and the course was paced in such a way that each exercise felt like natural extensions of the one we did before. I learned so much, and can not imagine trying to learn to drive a motorcycle on my own. I definitely recommend them if you've ever considered getting your license.

In related news, dad has offered to take a Saturday with me to look at bikes and help me find one to buy. All the ones I've seen on Kijiji that I might like have been far out of town, and dad said we'll drive all over the province if we have to. Thanks dad :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Motorcycles are so awesome...

...and we never even started them tonight. But they're still awesome.

So I've been pretty much pacing the house all day waiting anxiously for my motorcycle course to start. By about 4:30 I had driven Alan nuts I think. I have been alternating between extreme excitement and extreme fear of failure.

As per normal, my fear of failure was completely unfounded. I think that overall, I was doing as well as anyone there. We didn't do a whole lot tonight, as it was only three hours, and half of that was signing waivers, doing introductions, and watching videos. There are 12 people in the class, and I'm one of three women (well, of them was so short, she can't use any of the bikes there, and won't be returning). I actually knew one of the guys there, I used to work with him, so that was neat.

Our lesson with the bikes tonight consisted of first learning the major things to look for before you get on (lights working, throttle releasing properly, etc). Then they showed us how to properly get on the bike and stand it up, and then get off again. I know, sounds ridiculously basic, but they assume you know nothing, and I'm glad of that. It also taught me where both of the brakes are, which is really good to know.

Once we had mastered the safe mount and dismount, we paired up and took turns pushing our partners bike, in alternating straight stretches and corners. The idea was to start to get a feel for the balance, steering and braking of the bikes. We did that until it got too dark to see, and then watched another video.

Even though we never even learned how to turn the bike on, I already know I'm going to love this. I am very eager for tomorrow's lesson!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hooray for exercise

I know, who doesn't already know that exercise is great for them? Why am I bothering to celebrate it? Mostly because I just finished exercising, and it makes me feel good to do it, so I figured I'd write about it.

I've managed 3 straight days now of doing some sort of exercise. That is usually as many as I get before the weekend kicks in and I get lazy. Tomorrow is Friday, so we shall see, I guess. I try to alternate the types of exercise I do - weights and yoga one day, cardio on my Gazelle the next.

While I have not been consistent with this, getting in only two or three days a week, even that has been helping. I am starting to see something resembling muscle definition in my arms again, which is really nice. My biceps turning flabby is something that had really been bothering me, so it's great to see improvement. I also know I'm getting stronger because yoga isn't wearing me out quite as badly, and I'm doing longer sets with the weights (10-12 reps instead of 8). So it's little stuff, but it's improvement and it's encouraging. The more results I see, the more I actually want to exercise. I think I might even be losing a couple of pounds, which is really fabulous.

What I'd really like to work up to is biking. I have a really nice bike, and I really enjoy biking, but I live in the middle of a very steep hill. And all the streets around us are hills. It is really, really discouraging to try to go for a bike ride, and be too exhausted to move five minutes away from the house. I just don't have the strength yet to tackle the hills around here. While loading the bike into the car and driving somewhere else to bike always feels dumb to me, I think I'm going to have to start sucking it up and do that. I have a (very) long-term goal of biking the Cabot Trail, and I am never going to accomplish that by not biking.

It will have to wait until at least next week though, as tomorrow is the beginning of the other type of biking class. I will be blogging all about it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Home again

Greetings! Sorry for the lack of post yesterday, but I got home from Montreal early in the morning, and spent the day relaxing, getting unpacked, and spending some time with Alan since I hadn't seen him for 4 days. I also had to beg for my cat's forgiveness for leaving them. They seem to have gotten over it now.

Today I was back in the office getting caught up. One of my deals is getting a little messy, but we're having a meeting Thursday to sort it out, so everything should work out, though I suspect the closing date will be changing. Worse things have happened!

The exciting news was I picked up my motorcycle helmet today. I was a little worried about it getting in in time for the course starting, but my worries were, as usual, unfounded. It is very nice and shiny, I am pleased with it even if it isn't the girly one I tried to get. My cats seemed slightly alarmed by me wearing the helmet. This is not surprising though, as the cats still get alarmed when I'm wearing shoes, and I've been doing that since we got them. 3 more days til the motorcycle course starts! I am so excited.

I also picked up Alan's birthday present today (I don't think he reads this, but I'm not posting what I got him just in case). While I was in Montreal I missed both his and dad's birthdays, so I'm taking them out for lunch on Friday to make up for it.

Today was also the first day of getting my self back in order after the vacation. I did some weights and yoga today like a good girl, and I intend to do some cardio tomorrow. I find I do really well with exercise early in the week, but taper off as we get close to the weekend. This is an area in which I need to improve. I also need to get my eating in order. I started that today by cleaning out the fridge...that was more frightening than I had expected it to be. Tomorrow I get some proper groceries and work from there. I should figure out some good recipes to make over the next few days.

I guess that's all the news for now, I need to start finding some interesting stuff to post about. That will be part of tomorrow's projects too!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The last day

Sadly, this was our last day here in Montreal for World Con 2009. We took it very easy today, as despite how great the panels and events have been, you do get to a point where you just can't sit through too many more lectures. Knowing we had little energy left, we focused it on seeing Neil Gaiman as much as we could. He had 2 talks today, and we attended both.

The first was described as an interview of NG by a book critic, but they knew each other and it was really just a conversation between them, dominated by Neil. I think that was actually more enjoyable than an interview would have been. They talked about some authors they enjoy, and the joy of literature with multiple layers of meaning. Neil is really good at being thoughtful and thought provoking, with wonderful stories and bits of humor throughout.

The second session was intended to be a chance for NG to talk about Neil the person, as opposed to Neil the writer. We got to hear about Neil's beekeeping, former hobby of "growing exotic pumpkins" as he described it (which makes you wonder what on earth an exotic pumpkin is), how he got his dog, and how he met his girlfriend. It was, again, very entertaining. He's a great story-teller even when speaking about his own life, and really has a knack for leaving his audience in stitches.

We didn't attend anything else today, rather took some time to actually have a vacation. We just relaxed in the hotel for a bit, and went out for supper and walked around town a little bit. Overall I have had an incredible time, I am so glad I came. Erin has also had a good time, but I don't like to speak for her, of course. The World Con next year is being held in Australia, and I'm trying to figure out if there's any chance in hell of getting there (unlikely, but man that would be fun). Getting to see Neil Gaiman has been wonderful, and has left me with the impression that he would be an awesome guy just to hang out with. For some reason it is comforting to know that an author I love and buy a lot of works from, is also a clever, funny and nice guy.

The convention has also left me with a huge list of books and authors I need to check out, which is very exciting, and a renewed interest in writing. I am also looking forward to attending other conventions and conferences in the future, since this has been so fun and informative. There is one in Halifax next year (Hal-Con), and Erin and I are even thinking of volunteering for it.

Oh, that's another bit of happy news, while I think of it - Erin got an apartment! I've gone to look at a few places for her over the last few weeks, and her brother and dad were also looking at places for her. Her dad called Friday and said he'd found a great place, and Erin agreed and applied for it. We found out yesterday she got it, so that's awesome :)

Now it's bedtime, as I must be up early in the morning to get my flight home. See you again soon, Halifax!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Day 3

I can't believe I've been here three days already. I am having too much fun.

We had a bit of a slower day today. Slept in a bit to catch up on lost sleep, and spent a bit of time in the city.

We started the day with a fun lecture called "The Knights Who Say F***". Guy Gavriel Kay was one of the panelists, and it was on the use of contemporary language in settings of high fantasy. It was another fabulous and interesting discussion, and combined with several other people mentioning her in this convention, has left me with a desire to read some of the works of Ursula K. LeGuin.

After a little break, we attended another Neil Gaiman event. It was a reading. He read one of his short stories first, which was very good. It wasn't one I had read before, so it was a combined goodness of listening to Neil, and hearing a new story. His second reading was a "love letter", published in a collection of love letters released on Valentine's Day. He gave a funny intro about how he wasn't know for his handling of love affairs in his writing, and how he'd been delighted to write a "proper love letter" for this book. He then read his love letter, which was awesome, but showed why he's not known for his romantic literature. It was a really great reading overall, and he just keeps reinforcing my conviction that he is awesome.

After the reading we took a few hours off from the convention, and took advantage of the lovely weather to see a bit of the city. We strolled around a bit of old Montreal, and had lunch in a nice street-side patio. It was a really nice way to spend the afternoon.

For the evening we both went to a panel. I attended one on archaeology and world-building (i.e. creating histories for fictional worlds) which was pretty interesting, but not as good as I had hoped. Erin attended one on the making of "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?", a book of pictures of Amanda Palmer in various poses pretending to be dead, and stories about the deaths by Neil Gaiman. It's not a book I've read yet, but I think I will have to, as I love the concept.

The last event of the day was the Masquerade, which is the show of the costumes people made, to be judged. Most of the costumes were really clever and impressive. Some of the highlights were a phoenix costume, a vampire costume I think was based on a manga or anime character, and a Klingon/Batman crossover that was hilarious. There was a long break between the end of the show and the judging, during which they showed old Looney Tunes clips, including on of my favorites, the Barber of Seville. We stuck around to watch those until they were showing ones we didn't like, then headed out. We didn't care about who won the contest, we had just wanted to see the costumes.

Now we're having a relaxed evening watching The Two Towers, Erin doing her cross stitch and me blogging! Resting up for tomorrow, the last day we'll be here at the convention. It actually continues on Monday, but we fly out at the crack of dawn that day. I will be sad to leave, this has been too much fun. Ah well, I still have another day to enjoy yet!