Happy New Year’s

So I decided to stay home and read a webcomic. Not the most exciting of New Year’s Eve’s, but it’s what I did. My goal right now seems to be trying to avoid thinking about the state of my life. Two minutes to go until the halfway mark of this decade, and I’m no better off than when it started.

It took me quite awhile to find my car in the parking lot, but, obviously, I did. The temperature here is -20, which is colder than Winnipeg, but there is less snow.
I slept this morning and read the paper. Generally unproductive.
I’m feeling a little depressed again. I came back to Edmonton at this time so I could try and find a New Year’s Eve party to go to. But I haven’t any ideas. The newspaper columnist even commented on the disappointment of these parties. I toyed with the idea of having people over for a Random Acts of Gaming, but the first person I called already has plans for the evening, so I lost enthusiasm for the idea.
I should go out, but I also remember being told that I shouldn’t do things that I don’t enjoy. If I do go out, it will be alone, and I’ll go to some place where everyone is already a couple and wind up feeling depressed. But staying home, alone, is also depressing.
Even if I do go out, where do I go. Let’s face it, the bar I go to regularly doesn’t play good music and the only reason I go is that I know one other person there. I heard that last year the Citadel theatre had a good party. That might be on this year.
I’m sure whatever I do I will be disappointed.

Well now the vacation is over. I’m back on the plane and flying to Edmonton. It was a bit nervous about the flight. A blizzard hit Winnipeg yesterday. In the evening the family shoveled the driveway so that we would be able to drive this morning. The roads were somewhat treacherous, but I got to the airport an hour before my flight, which was, surprisingly, not delayed.
In other news, told me that Campaign Outfitters was closing down. It is the game store I used to work at over a decade ago. So I went there yesterday to see if there were any good deals from a going-out-of-business sale. There wasn’t much there for sale, but I learned the truth of what was going on. Bill, the owner, was retiring from teaching, which is why he was selling the store. And he sold it to Pedro!
Pedro was a co-worker at the store when I was working there. He was let go during my tenure, which was a shock to a lot of people. As Canticle said “But he’s an institution!”. Well now that institution is back and he owns the company. He bought it three days ago.
I’m happy for him and it is nice to know that the store will still be around, even if I’m not.
He already seems to be dong things smarter in the store. He’s acknowledged that some things aren’t going to sell unless they are put on a drastic sale. There are some paperback books that are still there, even though he remembers putting them on the shelf when he worked there. Now all the unpopular books are 60% off.

The vacation is nearly over.
I saw Jeff, briefly. I saw Coram, briefly.
My friends are either busy or sick all the time, so I didn’t seem them much. I’ve ended up being stuck with my parents all week. It’s been nice, but I wish I could have seen the people I grew up with.
With Jeff I hung out with him for a lunch and we talked. I think I’m getting a little too depressed, because I think I was a bit of a downer. I’m jealous of Jeff because he is such a fun guy and has never seemed to have any trouble getting attention. The only way I’ve ever gotten attention is when I start doing things like dying my hair blue. In other news, it is not looking good for a European vacation this year.
With Coram, he came over for a dinner with his wife and baby. Lily is only four months old and Coram is deep into the new father syndrome. Very gooey. Lots of baby faces. I think he needs to get away from that kid soon.
Today I had made the plan to tire out the Harry, the family dog, as much as possible. I took him for a 45 minute run in the morning. In the afternoon, I took him snowshoeing with my mother. This evening he was with me for a walk with my father. There was a plan yesterday to do an evening excursion tonight to Beaudry park and tire him out there too, but Coram’s illness started acting up, so he bailed. Harry was crankier than usual this evening, but I don’t think he is going to sleep the whole night like I wanted.
I saw the movie “The Butterfly Effect” the other day. I saw the director’s cut version and was amazed at how good a movie it was. I spent the rest of the day mulling over it. The ending was depressing, but it felt like a good ending. Then I had it pointed out to me that the theatrical release had a happier ending. So I went back and checked that out too. It was a happier ending, but it wasn’t as good. Some movies are meant to be tragedies and just don’t work if a happy ending is shoehorned in. It was interesting seeing the differences though.
I spent some time on the computer this week. I learned enough CSS to be dangerous so I redesigned the website for my D&D game. It looks classier now, but there are still some improvements I’d like to do to the XSL transformation. Now all I need to do is get around to uploading the changes.

So here I am on the plane to Winnipeg. It was stressful getting to the airport, but then, when isn’t it. I would like to say I had to get up at the crack of dawn, but that won’t happen in Edmonton until 45 minutes after I land in Winnipeg.
I don’t seem to be looking forward to this trip too much. My sister isn’t going to be there (still in Florida) and I’m not staying for two weekends. I’m going home on the morning of the 31st, because I want to attend a New Years Eve party in Edmonton. I don’t have a specific one planned, but I know I don’t have anything to go to in Winnipeg. (Not much better in Edmonton though.) With the shortened trip, it’s not feeling like much of a vacation.
I was one of the last, if not the last, to get onto the plane. In the line to board, I was behind a pretty girl, but she is sitting exactly one row behind me. The entire time I can hear the guy next to her talking with confidence and charm to her about being from Winnipeg and living in Edmonton. They seem to be bonding nicely. I’m feeling jealous.
The fear of dying alone is kicking in. It usually happens about now with the year ending, but it also happens on my birthday. On Christmas you are supposed to be happy, so it hammers it home when you’re not. I’m feeling lonely, and I don’t see any chance of that changing.
Well, on that happy note, Merry Christmas.

What an unproductive day. It was the unofficial Christmas party. The vice-president of development is leaving the company, so he is being free with the Christmas funding. So in the morning I was sent out with my manager to pick up booze and other supplies. At lunch there was a pot-luck ensemble. In the afternoon, we watched “A Christmas Story” and digested.
Good times!

I am no expert on this, but mind has been wandering.
I am proud of our troops in Afghanistan. The world got together and decided to put things right there. It’s easy to see who are the good guys are here. From what I can see, things seem to be going more productively there, than compared to Iraq.
I’ve been thinking that part of the reason that there seems to be less insurgents than Iraq is that we are actually helping these people get civilization. In Iraq, the country was fairly well off and there seemed to have some level of technology. In Afghanistan, the people lived in the Medieval ages. When the coalition came, they brought with them a modern society. I read in the paper the other day how there is this company selling cell phones to the people.
But let’s examine Iraq.
Before Americans: Civilization
After Americans: Medieval society
Pretty much the exact opposite.
This might explain why there are more insurgents.

In other news, Bush is Time’s “Man of the Year”. I think Time is under the impression that each term they have to make the president the Man of the Year at least once. No actual accomplishment required.

I have decided I hate the Bank of Montreal.
A year and a half ago I got my mortgage through them. I did a few comparisons, and there wasn’t a reason not to go with them. The reason to go with them was that I had collected an obscene amount of FirstHome Dollars on my credit card. I haven’t had any major problems with them.
But the thing is that I pay attention to details. Almost at the anal-retentive level. Whenever I get a bank or investment statement, I enter it into the computer so I can track what is going on with my money. There could be better hobbies, but you are stuck with who you are. Most institutes give me monthly updates, or at the very least a quarterly statement which will tell me what was deposited and what was earned.
But Bank of Montreal has decided that I only need a brief summary once a year. And when I say brief, I don’t think it is possible for them to get briefer without giving me a blank piece of paper.
This annoys me.
Last year, it wasn’t a problem. The nice people at the branch went through their records and printed out what they had. It looked horrible, with formatting more like a DOS prompt than anything else (I think they just took a series of screen shots), but it had all the information and I was happy. I could tell exactly how much I was putting towards the mortgage, and how much towards the interest.
Today I deposited a large amount of money towards said mortgage, and I hoped to get the same information sheets. I was politely told that that was against policy. They could be fired if they gave that information out. She then proceeded to show me how to calculate everything I need, which would give me number CLOSE to my interest payment.
This isn’t a national secret! This is my money! Do they have something to hide? I’ve been simmering all afternoon over this. I’m going to complain to the bank, and I am seriously thinking of transferring my mortgage to another institute. Would anyone put up with that level of information if it was a checking account?
Of course if I close up my mortgage, I will have to be vindictive and close up my RRSPs with them too. Hopefully that will put more weight towards my threats.

A beautiful run this morning. Only 16km though. I was supposed to do 32km, but it is close to Christmas, and there was a brunch I would have missed if I did that distance. Plus I didn’t want to.
The weather was perfect for running at around 4 degrees, so I could go in shorts. Running is so much nicer in shorts. The smaller distance also made everything easier. On River Valley Road, the long stretch that leads into the finish, I’m usually too tired to increase my speed. But today I just flew down it.
Of course any calories I burned, I promptly put back on with the brunch.
Speaking of calories, I just talked to my sister in Miami. She was concerned that she was gaining weight. Her job requires her to sit all day, and she has an hour long drive both ways, so she isn’t getting much exercise. As soon as the conversation was over, I put down the phone, picked up the newspaper and read an article about how a lot of immigrants to the states are gaining weight.
Can’t fight destiny.

I didn’t go out to the bar tonight. I’m not entirely sure I enjoy going. It’s the most successful bar experience I’ve had, but really, I don’t know that many people, and I don’t care for the music. I remember a self-esteem book telling me to not do what I don’t enjoy.
So I stayed home and watched TV. I’m also continuing the quest to get this place organized. The task I started tonight was to start emailing pictures to all the people that I met in Jamaica. I’ve cataloged which I need to send to whom, but only sent one out.

It lives!
I went out and got an audio cable. Plugged it into the Airport Express base station. Started up iTunes. I’m now in my living room listening to music from my laptop over my stereo system. Wirelessly! Let me prove it… Yup! Works in the kitchen too.
I never listen to music on the stereo anymore. The radio never played what I want. Any CD I put in has maybe two good songs. So I’ve been listening to all my music on the laptop. With the iTunes store in Canada I can see it becoming more important to me, because I am finally purchasing music again.
Now I don’t have to be at my computer to listen. Just to start it up.
Music has entered my life again.

When I said the other day that I had a strong hint that I was getting an AirPort base station for Christmas, it was due to that I said I wanted one, and my parents asked me to buy one in the land of no-sales-tax Alberta. Of course I have to try it out to make sure it works.
It does.
I’m sitting in my living room, surfing the internet, watching TV, and apparently updating my journal.
I’d try this on my patio, but it is a little cold to do that.

This place has a hall cat.
The people who live at the end of the building have a cat, and they leave their door open, so it likes to wander the halls. Actually, no, let me correct myself. It likes to wander to my door and meow.
I’ve done nothing to make friends with this cat. I make no secret of my opinion of them. I was raised to hate cats. It’s one of those creepy looking short-haired ones. Very soft to pet, but with an unnatural look about it.
It doesn’t do this to anyone else. It only comes to my door and meows. I’ve opened it to try and convince it to move along, nothing here to see. Instead it tries to make a break inside. Do I have a secret stash of catnip I don’t know about?
Last night I let it come in while I was having people over for some board games. It made a beeline for my computer room and hid under my patio chair. (I really have to move that thing into storage.) I herded it out before it started setting up shop.
This morning it tried again.

Dinner Theatre

Well, there was a dinner, and it was quite good, but I think they were using the term “theatre” too liberally.
The dinner was a buffet and the selection was good. I still feel quite stuffed from it. The “play” was called “Only in Canada, Eh?” It was basically a compilation of a whole bunch of Canadian songs. No plot or character development. Only songs. I recognized most of them, except the eight sung by one gentleman. In the second act this guy came out and acted like he was famous and sang four songs I had never heard of. He repeated this again in the third act. Talking to other people I found out he was famous, but apparently out of my circle. Has anyone reading this heard of Alfie Zappacosta?
Because this was the office Christmas party, we had an American from the head office tag along. During the first intermission a lot of people talked to him. I guess we wanted to see the American’s opinion of Canada. I think we just demonstrated an inferiority complex.
We talked about the stuff Canada has done to Americans. The show “Talking to Americans” was brought up. The Rick Mercer “Jean Poutine” question to George Bush. My boss pointed out that we’re 100 times worse with our own politicians. I seem to recall someone having our Prime Minster in a headlock threatening to give him noogies. We really don’t take our politicians too seriously.
Mind you, I also thing it is cool that our previous PM had no problem throttling protesters that got to close to him.

Yesterday the Running Room had their Candy Cane Lane run. We started in Government House Park, then ran through a completely dark ravine. It would have been a lot easier if the moon was full. Anyway, when we got to the end, we ran down Candy Cane Lane. Lots of lights. Very tacky. At the end, we turn around and run back.
It was a nice change of pace (no pun intended) from the usual runs. I couldn’t watch the lights much because I was always having to look down to check the footing. My biggest problem was that the wait for the run to start was in a cold park, instead of the usual warm store.

We got let out of work early because the Christmas party starts soon. I’ll try and add an update when I get back.

I should have guessed

I got an AirPort card the other day, but I only installed it into my laptop just now. Fairly easy, it is a Mac after all. I don’t have a base station, but I have a strong hint I’m going to get one for Christmas.
So when I turned on my iBook, I saw a list of networks available. I guess some other people in the building have wireless networking too. The thing is, the person with the “linksys” domain doesn’t have password protection enabled on his network. All the others do. So, I can browse the internet on somebody else’s account, wirelessly. I don’t even need a base station, I can just pirate.
Arrr, matey!
Unfortunately ethics reared its ugly head. I plugged my iBook back into the landline network, and turned the AirPort off.


I haven’t been sleeping that well lately. I seem to always be waking up at around 5:00 – 5:30 in the morning. And I have never been good at getting back to sleep once I’ve woken up.
Yesterday I was convinced I would get a good night’s sleep. I was exhausted from the long run. I had had a nice hot chocolate. Surely this would let me sleep all night.
The phone rang at 5:30 this morning.

Clearly a conspiracy is afoot.

In the past, there was a traditional after run Sunday brunch at Ricky’s. Basically do a long run, then try and put back all the calories you burned off. With some socialization too.
For the past few months I haven’t been going. I couldn’t tell if they were still going on after my absence (due to injury) and I never saw any of the usual organizers. Two weeks ago I found they were still on. “We’re always there.” So I went again.
Today though, after an exhausting 29km run, I went and there was no one there. They had already left. Disappointing. So I had a lunch by myself.

Today I went and got my hair cut. I first went to Swizzlesticks several years ago when my old hair place was going out of business for a variety of reasons. See Magazine had voted Swizzlesticks the best place in Edmonton, so that seemed like a good recommendation. The person I was assigned was Melissa, and I’ve been using her to do my hair ever since.
I trust her completely. I have realized I have no sense of style so I insist she do whatever she thinks is appropriate. Which explains why I’m growing my hair out longer. It’s been looking shaggy, but it seems a lot more under control now. She occasionally tries to get an opinion out of me, but it really doesn’t work. I don’t have to look at myself.
While she was doing her work she noticed that my eyebrows were not looking that great. She recommended I get them waxed.
I’m whipped. I seem to do whatever any pretty women, who pays an iota of attention to me, wants.
In case you’re wondering, the brows still look masculine. The uni-brow part of it is gone, and some of the stray hairs have been excised. Painful? Not especially. I was expecting worse.


Yesterday I had a good drive to work. It all comes down to River Valley Road. For my purposes, that road is one lane, and there is enough traffic coming and going that there is no safe way to pass a car ahead of you. So once you’re in position, you stay there. If there is a clown car ahead of you, suck it up princess.
I turn left onto this road at the Walterdale bridge. However, to my right there are cars already on it. In fact, there are two lanes of them, entering into a merge where they are whittled down to one lane.
What this means for me is that when they have a green light, a whole pile of traffic fights its way into the one lane, creating a nice clogged artery. When my light turns green I’m stuck behind that clog, where invariably someone with no stress slows everything down. The 60km limit is a dream as someone decides that 50km is safer. Yesterday though, I hit a green light with some maturity, so the clog had already travelled far enough that it was an open expressway for me.
But the end result of all this is maybe saving one or two minutes of my drive. I go through a lot of hoops to try and hit that sweet spot that will make River Valley Road a stress-free commute.
The thing is, I hate driving. I see no joy in it. I find the experience frustrating. Since I want to get it over with as quickly as possible, I go faster than the speed limit. Almost always. And it annoys me no end when the person ahead of me sticks to that limit like glue. Is that safe driving on my part?No, but speeding is less stressful than being forced to go slow. But in my defense, I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket. I don’t excessively speed. But the point of being in a car is to move forward. Sometimes the other drivers seem to forget this.
Whyte avenue seems to be designed to slow traffic down. Every light is timed to be red when you hit it.
With this in mind, I’ve realized something recently. I’ve probably always known it, but it feels more real if I write it down. With the snow here, I’m much more likely to run a yellow light. I convince myself it is safer. If I try and stop quickly so I don’t run the light, I risk going into a skid. It would probably be safer to just get through on the yellow light. But is that always true, or am I just using the excuse as a way to not wait through a red?
Of course, will realizing this thought process change my driving?

It’s still cold here, but I forced myself to do a run this evening. I thought I still had lactic acid build-up to deal with. Then I realized that my calves were hurting because this is the first time in a year that I’ve run on snow. It strains those muscles a lot more.

No greater joy than sleeping in on a Sunday.
I should have run. I should have run 29km. But I was up late, and it’s cold out. I instead slept in, read the newspaper and finished “Dragon Venom”.
I highly recommend “The Obsidian Chronicles” series by Lawrence Watt-Evans. The first book is “Dragon Weather”, but when you read it, make sure you don’t read any reviews or information about the other books. It is incredibly easy to spoil the plot twists in the first book that become common knowledge in the later ones.

So Cybernaughtyka was a bust. The music was the standard goth industrial that doesn’t tickle my fancy. The fashion shows were poor compared to what I’ve seen in Jamaica. The venue was fairly cold. The live band could have literally phoned the performance in. They, Noisex (“In noise we trust”) spent the entire time looking at their computers, which as near as I can tell were their only instruments. And I don’t want to call it music, when it was, well… noise.
The high point was the beautiful bartender Colleen. I hanged around the bar most of the night (wallflower, er… barflower) and talked to her. I bought her a drink, and gave her my number. I think that’s the way I’ll do things now. If she isn’t interested, she doesn’t phone, instead of stringing me along. She didn’t give me her number, so I’m not expecting anything to happen.

I have got to get the lactic acid out of my legs. Best solution: take a walk.
I took that walk this morning to the Rowena store. I didn’t need to go, but it was a conveniently far distance away. I have a hard time taking trips with no purpose. I need a destination.
We’ll gloss over the 19km run I did on Sunday that took me back where I started.
There was nothing at the store that I wanted. I really am not in the market for celtic crafts. (Cute clerk though.) But I thought they might have something appropriate for the social gathering I’m going to tonight. It started twenty minutes ago, but I know that I shouldn’t be there right when it opens.
The temperature has dropped here. Yesterday it was a high of +9. Today I think our high was -11. There was a bit of snow this morning, but it didn’t feel like it wanted to be there. It’s friends are coming this evening with a heavy snowfall warning.
In other news I finally found the book “Dragon Venom”. Too late for my caribbean trip. I’ve already sucked down a large chunk of it.
But now I’m going to go off to the event.

It’s a matter of public record that I hate Christmas carols. I guess I’m too cynical, but around Christmas time they just sound like advertisements, and no one seems to play them in August when they feel much more appropriate.
The one carol I do like is Carol of the Bells. It doesn’t sound like it is trying to be cheerful. As I’ve said before, “Doom is coming… for Christmas!” I thought I was original when I spoke that attitude, but I bought the script to TJ Dawe’s “The Slipknot” and he voices a similar opinion.

Everybody knows the Carol of the Bells…
The version they play on the Shopper’s Radio Network is a choral
And it sounds like someone slipped the choir something–they are wild-eyed and intense

Scariest Christmas Carol in the World!
And it’s made even worse by the fact that I think it’s really similar to the theme music from The Exorcist

So then, yesterday I poked around the iTunes store looking for a good version. Most are sung by chipper pop stars. I found the irony of The Canadian Brass version amusing (Let’s do the Carol of the Bells without bells!) The best seems to be The Mormon Tabernacle Choir version. Still they don’t have the fear of god in their voice while singing it, which defeats the point.
My point is that I listened to it a lot yesterday and it is now stuck in my head. So I found myself whistling a christmas carol this morning.
Bitter irony.

Happiness and Joy

The iTunes music store has finally come to Canada. Apparently at the lowest prices in the entire world. $0.99 Canadian for each song. I just bought myself one.
I’m not particularly proud of my choice, but it is a song I want, from a group that I don’t want the entire album.
In my head I’m planning on allowing myself to buy one song a week. But I know I’ll run out of songs quickly. I don’t listen to that much music.

For the first time, the music I’m listening to is relevant to the journal entry.

Too good to be true

I filled out a lot of free contests at the taboo show. I’m now on the phone with someone who says I have a free vacation. It sounds wonderful. Orlando, Daytona Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, then a cruise to Nassau. There are a few fees involved, but nothing major.
He wants my credit card expiration date.
None of your business.
He makes a nice spiel how this is totally safe, but I’m not about to let him put $698 US on my credit card for a two person vacation which I just have his word on.

But there is that small part of me that wonders if I’ve just passed on a fabulous vacation.

I’ve been planning on taking a vacation to Europe next summer. I’ve been thinking of it for over a year, but I fear it is about to fall through. I was planning on going with but he has gone on gotten himself engaged. So I doubt he is still going to do the Europe thing. And I really don’t want to go by myself.
I suppose that there is still a chance he will go, but it won’t be the exciting debauchery he has described happening in the past. (He’s clinically dead now.) I need more debauchery in my life. I can’t seem to find it on my own, so I was hoping to get direction from someone more experienced.
I better plan a different vacation.

The KFC conundrum

I don’t like KFC. I know this. It’s been true for years. But it seems that every year or so I need to remind myself. There is a KFC right next door to the Running Room. And today, after the run, I got a good whiff of grease and started craving. Dinner was just supposed to be leftovers, so why not. In I went, and ordered a meal.
Yep. Stay the course. KFC is still bad. Anemic chicken. No special taste that I can remember. That’ll learn me.
The run itself: They keep making me the group leader for the “5 minutes per kilometer” group. Being a power made dictator I took a detour through the legislature. They had just put up some lights, so it looked very nice.
My legs were killing me. I apparently haven’t been properly recovering from my longer runs and have a build up of lactic acid to deal with. So I need to take a walk.
Speaking of pain, my back is hurting. At first I thought my posture was bad, but I think its because I’m trying to do some exercises first thing in the morning. Literally roll out of bed and strain the body. No warm up or anything. So I think I’ll hold back on it for awhile.
I haven’t been sleeping that well lately either. I seem to wake up at around 5:30 and then can’t get to sleep. I pretend, but it’s not the same. Hopefully tonight will be better.