Sleep, lack thereof, and budgetary concerns

Why is it so much harder to wake up than to stay up late.
The party I had (actually just people over for a barbecue followed by some board games) ended at around midnight. I felt a little sleepy, but I was awake enough to pop a DVD into the player and start watching TV. Now it is 4:00 in the morning. I feel fairly alert, and I know I am more on the ball than I would be if I went to sleep and got up at an early hour. Sleep will not make me more awake but more sleepy. Why bother going to sleep if it won’t help me.
In sleeps defense, I am not taxing my brain hard. I was not watching a searing documentary on current political happenings. I was watching a television series.
Needless to say, I have decided, in my heart of heart, that I will not be running tomorrow morning. Or rather this morning. That would require getting up in three and a half hours, and that isn’t in the cards.
Saturday morning (note the subtle use of the name of the day rather than the demonstrative pronoun. Classy eh?) I had my hair cut. I spoil myself with the hairstylist. I acknowledge that I don’t have a proper sense of style, so I trust the stylist to make the important decisions. Ergo, I go to a more expensive place where there are trained professionals. I experimented with a different stylist for that session and the previous one, and I now realize that I have made a large mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, my hair looks very nice and I am pleased with the outcome. Just not at the amount of money I had to pay. The stylist proposed certain operations on my head, and they sounded reasonable. However, she didn’t quote a price and I only found out about the amount of tender after the ordeal was over. In fact when I was paying the bill, I was told I was also paying for something they forgot to charge me the last time. I suppose I might have been able to argue that last part, but services had been rendered.
It got me thinking that I am going to have to acknowledge the damage this has done. I feel there is now a lack of trust between me and the stylist. I am definitely going back to the old stylist, and not try to do anything fancy with the hair I have. The money is gone, and the best way to recover it is to start a budget.
For the past ten years I have been earning enough money to be comfortable and never really worry about money. I have a mortgage, and I have been doing a good job of killing it. But I could be doing a better job. A budget might just be the thing.
I’m not talking a major sweeping budget of all income and expenditures. Just the stuff that isn’t necessary. Groceries would continue to be me buying whatever I feel like. But I buy a number of books and reading material. I’ve been keeping an informal budget of that in my head, giving myself just $30 a week to blow how I feel like. Now I’ll start doing the same with hair stuff. Based off the recent bill, I’m in the hole, so I just need to figure out the average amount I would spend on hair stuff in a week (Very little except for the spikes when I actually do get it cut. We’re talking averages here people.) and figure out how long it will take to pay off what I just did.
This is all making great sense in this middle of the night time period. I’ll be interested to see what common sense the morning brings.

Late night recovery

Yesterday, the paper announced a show at a bar that looked like it would be fun to go to. It would have been nicer to have more warning, but you play the cards you’re dealt.
The biggest problem was the lack of time. The event started at 8:00 in the evening. At 6:00 I had an hour long trail running sessions. When I say trail running though, I actually mean running up cliff faces just to go back down them. Repeat seven times.
That was done at around 7:10, I got home and recovered by 7:30. So dinner went from being an actual effort to create a well-balanced meal, to slamming three eggs into a pan and frying them up.
I got to the event at around 8:30, just to find that it hadn’t opened yet. Apparently gay people are notoriously unable to maintain a scheduled appointment. No one was even allowed into the club until 9:00.
Anyway the show didn’t start until 11:30. I wasn’t fast enough into the place to score a table, so I made friends with a pair of women who actually had. They were friendly and I had a good time talking to them while waiting for the performers to get their act together. (Pun sort-of intended.)
The show was… slow. There was “Melodrama” in the title, which apparently means that everything takes forever to do, and there is a lot of staring around looking confused. They milked that one word to death. It was so slow, and boring! I actually had a better time talking with the women at the table instead of watching the show. By the second act, I wasn’t even paying attention to it anymore. The hour long intermission hadn’t help to maintain interest either. Oh well, the bar has to get people to buy drinks somehow.
I didn’t stay to the end. I got home and to bed by about 1:30. So today should be an interesting experiment in stamina.

Age differences

On Friday I went to the bar with . I had a good time. He introduced me to his friends. One of them was a women, I think I heard her name as Mickey, but it might have been Nikki. She talked to me for quite awhile, and she might have been interested in me. But I wasn’t interested back. It didn’t help that her breath smelled of cigarettes every time she opened her mouth. She was also ten years older than me, which just felt wrong.
In a bit of hypocrisy though, the next day I expressed interest in the cute waitress that was serving me and the family. After getting her email address I found that she was ten years younger than me.

Arrived in Edmonton

So I’m back in Edmonton. It was a very easy trip this time. I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn, but a more sedate 7:00. No fat people were sitting next to me while in the air. I have been under the impression that the first piece of luggage out of the carousel never belongs to anyone and is just “bait-luggage”, but surprisingly, it was mine. And my second piece of luggage was the tenth one out. Airport shuttle took me as close to home as possible. And now I’m back and the computer is working.
Best line of the trip was heard over the airport shuttle radio. “If anyone sees Brad Pitt, I need an autograph.”


I have an observation about the whole moving process.
Buying and selling a house is similar to other transactions. It is also unlike any other transaction (obviously, but not all due to size). Basically the real estate market is about exchanging one object for another similar object, same as many other purchases. If you buy one oven, you probably don’t need the old one around any more, so you get rid of it. This can be done by dumping it in the trash, giving it away to a needy cause, or selling it. The same isn’t true of a house. A house sticks to you more. You can’t dump it in the trash can, although I suppose you could torch it but then there are a lot of ugly questions, so that isn’t advisable. You can give it away, but a house is quite valuable, leading to the third option, selling it. Chances are the financial plan concerning the move was to sell one house to pay for buying another. In other transactions that isn’t an integral part of the plan. Buy the new item and then, at a future date, sell the old, at your convenience, for what you can.
But because of the financial plan with a house, you are at the mercy of people you don’t know. You can’t move on with your life until you sell a very large item for a large amount of money. So you have to prostitute your home. Take something you’ve loved for a long time, dress it up nicely so that people think it’s easy, put on makeup so people don’t see the cracks in the facade, and parade it around for a bunch of strangers and hope they’ll give you the money you want to take her away.
When you put it like that, I feel dirty.
I’ve heard a similar observation made about “This Old House”. It’s house porn. You see things on the television that look more beautiful than is realistic. People work on them, and look like they are having a great time, to make them more fantastic. But none of it is real. You’ll never get any house to look like that without expensive surgery.

Vacation report

Vacations are nice.
I get to be completely unproductive to my heart’s content.
Unfortunately this is not a vacation. At least not yet. Because my parent’s house isn’t sold yet the place is under high alert. It is even more like a museum than usual. Everything must be kept spotless and furniture that you’ve come to know and love seems to have been moved into the back vaults unexpectedly.
Last night there was an open house, so the place needed to be perfect. Sections were closed off and the dog wasn’t even allowed inside. That evening we then went out for dinner while strangers rummaged through our stuff. I think it went well, but none of the family will know until the house sells. Only our realtor knows for sure.
Still I have fit a few vacation elements in. I was able to get the latest J.K. Rowling book. FYI, it’s cheapest at Safeway or Superstore. Don’t bother with the bookstores, they’re trying to make a profit. I just finished it.
I feel bad that I got it the day it came out. I feel like one of the geeks who has to have it and devour it as soon as possible. But I needed something to read on this “vacation” and, well, why not this. In my defense I haven’t revolved my life around reading it. But when you start getting to the end of any book, things get more interesting as plots that have been developing begin to ripen, and it becomes harder to put down.
The book was good. I am not the target audience so it doesn’t stir my soul. It was really just like all the other ones though. I won’t recommend or dis-recommend (is that even a word?) because you already know if you are going to read it or not. If you’ve read the last five, chances are you can make up your own mind.


I think I saw the death of the CD today.
A while back I was browsing on iTunes and they were featuring a band called Bond. I listened to the 30 seconds samples of the songs and I was surprised that I liked every one of them. That’s almost unheard of for me. No pun intended. I could purchase all 13 songs on the album for $9.99. But I thought that I would be willing to spring a bit more to get the actual CD disk. That way I have a more permanent record of the songs and they will be of a higher quality.
Today I was at Best Buy so I took a look for the CD. It was there in the classical music section.
Twenty-three bucks??!
I was willing to pay $15-16, but that’s way too much. With that much of a markup, why would I want to pay that instead of downloading them directly from iTunes? Why would anyone?
If the sellers of CDs aren’t going to lower prices to compete with the online music stores, they aren’t going to last.
In their defense, the CD was dual layer. The second layer having a DVD of their music videos. But there was another CD by the group for the same price and it did not have the included DVD excuse.


Five weeks ago they started putting Suduko into the Edmonton Journal. I promptly became addicted. It’s a nice logic puzzle. What I particularly like is that one doesn’t need to see the answer to see if it was completed correctly. You can go through all the iterations and check it yourself to see that you’ve put the numbers in the correct spot. It’s actually rare for me to check the solution.
They are arranged in difficulty from one to five. The first time a difficulty five one was printed, I completed it faster than the last difficulty four one. That was an anomaly. Since then, the difficulty five ones have been brain busters and I have fallen back on occasion to the BFS method. Brute force and Stupidity. Last Tuesday it took all evening to finish it. Time I could have spent being productive, instead of solving puzzles.
I didn’t spend long on yesterday’s difficulty five puzzle, and it was still incomplete when I went to bed. Fortunately when I woke up I was inspired and was able to spend about ten minutes to finish it. So my record remains intact. There hasn’t been one yet that I haven’t solved.
I guess I’ve found a new hobby.


I’m going to be Winnipeg on the 16th for a week. With my parents moving to Alberta in August, this will probably be the last time I’m ever going to be there. It’s a little depressing, but life moves on. So my goal is to fit in as many friends and Winnipeg experience into the week I’m there.
Gelati will be involved.

Better physical therapists through bar hopping

Yesterday, at the bar, I was talking to a girl who was a physical therapist. Surprisingly, when I described my injury, she was familiar with it. She even knew exercises I should be doing to help it heal. Of course a bar isn’t the optimal location to show therapeutic muscle stretches. She suggested I show up at her yoga class the next day.
So I did just that this afternoon. A yoga class. I wasn’t at my most flexible, I had just finished running 17km that morning. Still, it was a nice bit of stretching. I’m just worried about the aches and pains that I expect to hit me. That’s why I haven’t been to a yoga class for several years: The agony it caused when I also did running made it not worth the trouble.
But now I know the exercises I need to do. Which makes me ticked off at the physical therapist I was using. She treated me like a new discovery and didn’t really know what needed to be done.


A hectic week with all the running and other stuff.
The trail running today was in Hawrelak park. The turnaround point appeared to be a wall. Some silly people might say that it was a hill that we were supposed to run to the top of, but it felt more like a wall to me.
Yesterday, after the run, there was a person at the store who was trying to get extras for a made-for-TV movie that is being filled in Edmonton. It stars Doogie Howser, among the other celebrities. He needed runners, and he was in a rush so his standards were low. I’ve never been in a movie before, so in my search for new experiences I decided to sign up. Since he ran out of forms, I had to go to the agency today to do that. It wasn’t far out of my way, in THE MALL.
A quick form and a picture later, and I’m on my way to doing something stupid to be famous.

Lifecycle of an open pit mine

They are building a condo in the vacant lot across the street. It’s been going on for awhile. Initially the lot was mostly flat, with an open pit mine to the right. It looked like it had been the victim of a snatch and grab of a lot of dirt.
About two months ago some diggers and trucks made a determined effort to dig a nice rectangular hole on the left. They made good progress, leaving a professional looking void. Then a month ago, all work stopped. No one showed up. No dirt moved. The earth moving machines rusted in their own graveyard.
Last week it started up again and things got weird. They filled in the open pit mine with some spare dirt, which is fair enough. Then they started moving other dirt around and it looks like they are filling in their previous hole. I mean, it’s their hole, they can do what they want with it. I guess they just have a hobby that is stranger than most.
It is still a lot of hole. Strangely, their is a puddle of water on the bottom. At least it started as a puddle. I’ve been watching it grow over time, which is odd because there has been barely any rain. It has no right to grow, unless their is a secret spring hiding over there. If there were it would be a shame to build a condo on top of it.

Zealous catholics should not read the following.

I read in the paper the other day that the Vatican is considering making the pope a martyr. This would put him on the fast-track to becoming a saint. According to the dictionary, a martyr is:

a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion

This seems a bit silly to me. First off, he didn’t die for his religion. If anything, he lived too long for his religion. He looked like he was just a propped up corpse for the last few years. Take a break, you deserve it. You’ve done a lot of good, now pass the torch on with some dignity.
Too late for that attitude now.
A saint shouldn’t just be churned out because a bunch of yahoos in the papal square want it. The only person that really helps is to give the Saint a few new aliases.
Also, doesn’t it diminish the other martyrs who actually did die for their religion. He lived for 24 years after his near death experience. And it wasn’t tortured poverty stricken years either.
Look at it this way. If the Congressional Medal of Freedom was handed out like candy, it would be pretty insulting to all the people who earned it.
Do the process correctly. Don’t fast track it. Take your time and do the research. You might find out he doesn’t deserve to be a saint. But don’t put words into god’s mouth. Find evidence he should be a saint, not just the faith.

But then the scientific method isn’t that popular with the religious right.

Canada Day Run

I stand corrected. Yesterday, the fireworks were for a baseball game. The real firework display was tonight. So I walked down to the river valley, well in advance, to get a good spot to see it. Along the way someone handed me a ticket to get into the Armoury pub for free. Good for tonight only.
The fireworks were spectacular. They are still trying to make up for two years ago when they had a budget of $30. It helped that there was a beautiful lightning cloud in the background adding its commentary every so often.
Afterwards, I headed back, but I decided to check out the Armoury. Today is the first day that the smoking ban for all public places comes into effect for Edmonton. I’ve been looking forward to going into a bar and breathing deeply for some time now. The Armoury seemed to be trying to do the transition slowly by having a fog machine smog up the interior. The bar seemed to be 80% guys so I didn’t like the prospects there. It’s not even a gay bar, not that that would have helped.
I didn’t stay long.
Interestingly, I’ve heard “Summer of ’69” three times today. Mostly in bars.
The Barenaked Ladies concert was good. I showed up at 6:00, so I was also able to see Randy Bachman. I’m a bad Winnipeger because this was the first time I’ve ever seen him. I wasn’t impressed. It took about half an hour to get to a song I recognized, and I despise “American Woman”. I should have come later.
It rained half an hour into the show. I was nearly in the perfect spot. When the rain started only my feet got wet, and the rest of me stayed dry. After the wind shifted, that would have been true only for the row behind me. It didn’t last long, and it has been clear since.
I’m still waiting for that thunder cloud from the fireworks to show up though.


During lunch today, I was talking with my co-workers. The discussion of hobbies came up. Principally that I should get a few new ones. The basic idea was that when my mortgage is paid off, (which should be next year) I’ll have a lot more liquid finances. You are only young once, so I should take up an expensive hobby.
The president of our division spends his spare money on astronomy equipment. Another co-worker is in to photography. Yet another is spending time sailing and building remote control airplanes.
I guess I’ll need to find something distinctive for myself. I’ll need some ideas first. I don’t think skydiving will be on the list.

In a somewhat related note, I got a raise today. They called it a merit increase. It’s only 1.5% more, so it feels more like a cost-of-living increase. Still more money is good.