I learned how lucky I am to live in this country today. I started the day south of Calgary, departing from my parent’s place. The car was stuffed with gifts and luggage, including two laptop computers, a vacuum cleaner, and a valuable guitar.
While passing through Calgary I stopped off at a few places before heading to Edmonton. I was a little nervous with all the precious cargo, so I made sure as much as possible was hidden in the trunk. I even used the Club on the car.
It was only after the third stop, when I was picking up something to munch on from McDonalds that I noticed the entire time the passenger’s door was unlocked. And yet all my stuff was still there.
So I felt warm about the general good character of the natives of Alberta. That lasted for almost a whole minute. Then I lost it, when I noticed that none of the men in the washroom washed their hands when they left.
To further downgrade the quality of life, I noticed that Whyte avenue seems to have gotten infected with squeegee kids.

Calgary excursion

I really should be more proactive with this journal. Yesterday a few things happened, and yet I didn’t write anything. Today is proving quite dull, and I have to reference the stuff that happened previously.
Of course with that build up, what I describe will only be a letdown.
The family decided to take a trip into Calgary. I wanted to look at a gaming store that is better than anything in Edmonton. There was a certain book I wanted. I had thought about hitting the store on the way down on Saturday, but I was warned that Calgary was a madhouse and I would be better off avoiding it. On Monday, a similar thought prevented going after it then. So when I get to the store, I find that the book sold out the day before.
That put a bit of a damper on the trip.
My family also went to look for a new receiver. The one that they have is approximately 20 – 25 years old. It is time for a new one. Buying audio-video electronics is a lot like buying a used car. The salesmen are always trying to make a sale, will use lots of words you don’t know and try and dazzle you with glitz and glamor. I am so glad that when I went to buy my surround sound I had advice on what to get, so that it was a surgical strike shopping. Get in, get out, nobody gets hurt.
The family didn’t buy anything. I’m going to check with my friend to find out what he recommends and then tell that to my parents.

Learning experience

I learned something today.
On Saturday I came down from Edmonton to my parent’s new home a bit outside of Calgary. (South of Red Deer, the radio stations that aren’t playing country music are only playing Christmas music. You can’t win in that situation.) Before leaving, I stopped off at the farmer’s market. I was there to pick up a turkey for Christmas, but I also needed a gift for Harry (a dog). I found it. There was a place there selling huge honking bones for dogs. These are bones straight from the cow, large, and bits of gristle still hanging off it. Perfect.
Now Harry quite likes this bone. He also likes burying it and saving it for later. I guess being underground helps tenderize it. I don’t know, I’m not a dog. In either case, it leaves his breath rather rancid. And he is quite willing to share the smell with you. He is not willing to share the bone.
So I found the perfect solution: Listerine Pocket Paks. Those small little sheets of green that melt in your mouth instantly. I held one up to him. His first instinct is to sniff, then lick to figure out what it is. Because of how they are formulated, they melt immediately in saliva. So that first slurp carries it right into his mouth where he can’t get rid of it. Most importantly, he can’t spit it out. Any other breath mint would be on the floor at first taste. With this, all he could get out was some drool.
So now when he pants in my face, it’s minty fresh.

Vacation plans

So my plan was that next year I would go to Jamaica once again, but only because the yearly event was happening during my birthday. I might as well make a party of it.
I just got an email telling me otherwise. It has moved back to its regular schedule of the first week in November. The email continued to list all the special deals you can get if you are either a woman or attending in a group of two or more. I don’t apply for any of those. Last year I got a $100 discount for being an alumni and I might be able to get that again.
Now do I go? I felt a little burned the last time when my camera was stolen. I justified deciding to go again because it was during my birthday.

I probably will go.

Storage units

I went down into the bowels of the building, also known as the parking garage, to open up my storage unit. It’s in an awkward place and stuffed to the gills with mostly empty boxes. There is a deck chair in their that doesn’t collapse, So, like I said, awkward.
I was looking for a small object that would form part of a Christmas present. I had purchased it awhile ago, but after the move I had no use for it. But now I know someone who does need it. I suppose this could be considered regifting, but no one gave it to me, so I’m in the clear.
Anyway, after rummaging in the locker for some time, I found that the object in question wasn’t there. Armed with this knowledge, it took me five seconds to find where I had put it in my laundry room.
I think I have an order of operations problem.

He may be king, but who is the successor

Today was the office Christmas party. Well, not the true one. That one is happening at a restaurant in January. Today we had a catered lunch. I found it somewhat unsatisfying. There wasn’t a lot of food, and it didn’t taste that spectacular.
My biggest beef was when I was told that there was Coke in the fridge. I opened it up, and couldn’t find any. There was a box of something called “Coke Zero”, or “Zero Coke” which pretty much summed up my attitude about there being cola in the fridge. Why yes, I am petty.
After the lunch, things picked up and we went to see King Kong. I’m sure everyone knows the plot, unless they’ve “been on Mars for the last decade, in a cave, with my eyes shut and my fingers in my ears.” Which when you think about sums up the last four Peter Jackson movies. They are ones that have well known plots. Can he make an original movie anymore?
I went in with a good attitude. In my heart, I expected that I would eventually own the DVD. This is after all Peter Lord-of-the-Rings Jackson. Things were going well until the scene with the maggots. I literally could not watch. And now that I think about it, there was nothing compelling about it for me. The action scenes were great, but the emotional scenes drag on. Of course this is the same man that never seemed to get tired of the “Frodo with the furrowed brows” image.
Still, I would say that people should go see it. It is the Christmas holiday event movie. I believe I like it better than the Narnia movie.

Radio stations

On Monday, one of the top 40 radio stations in Edmonton changed. I usually listen to the top 40 stations, but with an attention deficit disorder. If I don’t even vaguely like the song, change the station to the next one. So I keep the rap and hip-hop down to a minimum. If the two top 40 stations aren’t playing tolerable music, (which happens often in the morning when they think I want to hear inane chatter) then its off to CBC AM for news. In an ironic twist, I’ll switch back to the music stations if CBC AM tries to play music.
Anyway, the station changed the format to country music. (Insert spitting sound here. See Corner Gas Re: Wullerton.) So that station is now dead to me.
This has left me with nothing to listen to on the radio. The other top 40 station has taken advantage of this vacuum to peddle their all rap and hip-hop ideal. And my refuge of CBC AM is currently spinning a lot of Christmas music.

The stupid camera is now $100 cheaper. I could have gotten one with 7.1 megapixel resolution for what I paid for a 5 megapixel one.

Bloody hell.

Financial planning

I went to the bank today and put a payment down on my mortgage. It wasn’t as much as I would like. It never is. But I did pass an important milestone. With the mortgage I have, I am allowed to pay 20% of the initial amount in advance payments. So if I had taken a plan for $100,000 (I haven’t), I would be able to pay $20,000 extra in a given year.
I am now at the point where I have less than 20% of the mortgage left. So in theory, next calendar year I would be able to pay it off completely at any time.
Assuming I had the money.
I’ve given myself a goal to pay it off by May 20th. That would be the three year anniversary of my home ownership. Now I probably don’t earn enough by my salary to pay that much. But I do have a large chunk of US dollars sitting around, being unproductive. I’ve been waiting for the Americans to stop tanking their economy so that I can use them to pay off my debt. But those silly Yanks keep electing dumb presidents. I may just have to bite the bullet and convert the currency at a less than optimal rate.
That still won’t be enough. The other option is to be very careful about any purchases I do. Live frugally. The thing is, I can probably do that and not even notice. I don’t buy many toys for myself these days. The only frivolous items I get are DVDs and books. And I already have a lot of those that I haven’t done anything with. So saving money shouldn’t be a hardship.
Let’s see what happens.

Candy Cane Lane

Tonight there was the annual run through Candy Cane lane. I wonder what being on that street does for your property values. It’s probably a lot of responsibility to have to light up your yard. Of course not everyone lights up, but some people do go overboard.
It was a better run this year than last. The biggest perk was that the moon was full. The first and last part of the run is about 3km through a ravine with no street lights. It was amazing how bright it was. I kept thinking someone was shining a flashlight at me, but no, full moon.

The Party

Well that was an interesting movie.
It started out well, and I can see where it would be good for improvisers to see. But, then the last half hour seemed to undo all that.
For the first while, Peter Seller’s character refuses to drink, so you can see him trying to maintain his composure under trying circumstances. And it is funny. Then he gets some alcohol in him. He stops trying to maintain himself and he starts fitting in. Which isn’t funny.
Then of course the whole movie got ’60s on us. Let’s have a groovy party! Let’s have an elephant in it too. Let’s fill the house with foam.
My advice: Skip the last half hour. You can figure out how it ends.

vs. Best Buy

At my final improv class, the teacher recommended that we see the movie The Party, starring Peter Sellers. So I decided that I would buy the movie and have a movie night for any of my classmates that wanted to come. I went to Best Buy and picked up a copy of the DVD for about $10. I’m presently getting ready for it. However, I have developed a slightly cranky mood.
Yesterday, I saw in the London Drugs flyer that they are selling the camera I recently got from Best Buy for $70 cheaper than what I purchased it for, 29 days ago. I figured price protection would still be on so I went in today with the receipt and the flyer.
Price protection at Best Buy apparently only lasts for 14 days for digital cameras.
So now I’ve got a bad relationship with my new camera. It’s been fine, but whenever I look at it now, I’m going to think that I could have gotten it for 14% cheaper if I had waited two weeks. And it isn’t like I’ve taken any important pictures since I got it.
It didn’t help that after I was shown the door at Best Buy, I went to Superstore for groceries and saw “The Party” for only $8.66.
My timing sucks.

Record company ivory tower

I read an article today that just hammers home how out of touch the record companies are with the average person.
Apparently someone wrote a song-lyric search program. That’s a great idea. So often I hear a song on the radio and decide I want to purchase it. The radio stations are loath to tell you the artist or song that was played, so frequently I will try and remember the words, then pump them into Google with the keyword “Lyrics”. That will often tell me the song in question. It has backfired occasionally where I get the song, but with the wrong band. A song-lyrics search program sounds like a good way to cut out the middleman.
Now I find that a record company is suing the creator of the program. They claim that it “enables people to copy and download lyrics. Inevitably this will enable people to download lyrics owned or controlled by this company, Warner/Chappell Music Ltd.” Of course, it also acts as a nice gateway for people looking to purchase the music.


Snow and ice

I haven’t updated in awhile and for that I apologize. Life became busy.
I had thought that after my final improv class on Tuesday I would be able to write something. But there was an after class party that lasted until midnight. I wasn’t that able to think coherently enough to biograph after that.
And really, nothing interesting has happened. My parents have gone home. They left Monday, despite a large snowstorm that almost shut down the QE2 highway that connects Calgary to Edmonton. That snowstorm did cause me problems. I slipped on the ice a bit in my car which caused me to nudge the curb. With the temperature below -20, that caused, well let’s just say that hubcap plastic doesn’t bend when it is that cold.
It’s not a lot of damage, but it does annoy me. There has been a vague thought on my part to look into getting a new car soon. My car is functional, and in fairly good condition. It is a 1998 Honda Civic, and it has less than 35,000km on it. (No typo there. I really don’t drive very much.) I saw a new Civic a few months ago and they are sweet. And after my mortgage is paid off, I will need to reward myself somehow.

Improv show #3

So I had the improv show today. It went well. It was a short gig, so I was only in three scenes. The first one was rather bad and I would like to forget about it.
The next one was better. It was a game of chapters. Basically the MC calls out the random chapters of a story. The name of the story was, according to the audience, “Antler surprise”. It went quite well, telling the story of how a man in Millwoods hates the antelopes that keep going through his garbage. He makes the community board enact a law of no antlered animals. Then another couple finds a dead antelope. It is baked into a cake and served to the antelope hating man. It even has bone marrow in it for his son with cancer. Unfortunately, after eating it, it was found out to be poisoned because they wanted to put the son out of his misery.
Of course the synopsis was in order. The actual play bounced around.
The final set was a bunch of plays about Christmas. We discovered:

  1. If you are giving your son a rifle as a Christmas present, don’t tell him you killed Santa with it.
  2. Rudolph is a complete jerk to the elves.
  3. Don’t feed giant cakes to people with anorexia.

I would like to point out that improv is very rarely politically correct.

Running without scissors

My parents are here now. Their arrival gave me an opportunity to do something I’ve wanted to do for awhile.
I ran to work.
Work is about ten to eleven kilometers away. I’ve never done it before because I only ever wanted to go one way. So while I could get to work, I didn’t want to try running back home again. Since my parents were here, and picking me up from work, I got my wish.
Of course I arrived at my company rather smelly. It was minus fourteen, with bit of a wind chill, but I still sweated. I had a plan for this too. Last year the Club Fit in the building tried to convince the new tenants to become members. A bunch of us went on the tour. Generally, I figured out it wouldn’t be worth the money. I get more than enough exercise with my regular running routine. But the benefit of the sales pitch was that they gave me a business card. On the back of which was a free pass to the gym.
So I used the card, took a shower and then left. Never even touched an exercise machine.
Normally such an act would cost $10.