First night in Montréal

It took an hour and a half before I heard my first “Tabernac!” The bus driver was complaining about another bus blocking his way.
My room has a beautiful view. I think I can see Mont Royal. Well, a big hill anyway. With a large glowing cross on top. (Looks gaudy.)
I’m finding it hard to be extrovertive here. Not when instead of “Hello”, my first words are “Parlez-vous Anglais?” It hasn’t been a problem so far. And the locals are friendly. I just wish I had paid more attention to the backs of cereal boxes.
I promptly left the hotel to meet some friends at a nearby restaurant. It was a party so I met some new people. All of them spoke English thankfully. I’m desperately trying to remember all their names…
There were a LOT of people.
It was nice to be at a bar where people were happy to see me, which is more than I can say about Edmonton.


The flight feels like it’s getting foreign. Every kilometer we come closer to Montréal the more French if feels. It started subtly, but it is growing. On takeoff, English was the first announcement. Now French is.
Montréal looks nice and green. I hope it’s not too cool. Edmonton was really hot so I dressed for that weather.
I got to pick the movies to watch on my viewscreen. Shrek 3 was, well, not funny. The Waitress was better but the flight ended before the film. The last twenty minutes are a mystery.

I can see the plane

I’m at the airport in the departure lounge. Still nervous. No turning back now.
Unless I shout “Allah Ackbar” at the top of my lungs. Then I could turn back. They might insist on it.
The flight is late of course.
I hope they serve a lunch on board.

It’s nature’s way

There is some physical law out there, up there with 1+1=2 and gravity.
If it is important for me to get a good night’s sleep, something will prevent that. So, if for instance, I am up until 2:00 in the morning for a flight the next day, it’s pretty important that I catch up on sleep. In such a case I should not be surprised if the phone rings at 6:00 in the morning with a wrong number.

Leaving on a jet plane

In twelve hours I will be flying away from here and I won’t be back for a month and a half.
I don’t feel ready. Too many distractions to feel like I’ve properly packed. And despite what some people say it does not just involve throwing some shirts and pants into a suitcase.
I don’t expect to sleep well tonight. I didn’t last night. The stress woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep.
To add insult to injury, I can’t find plane tickets. I’ve got four itinerary of the plane travel, but not the ticket itself. It might be a ticketless affair, but I don’t know for sure.
I’ll contact the travel agent in the morning.

And knowing is half the battle

What we have learned today.

  • A good friend will drive out and help boost someone’s car.
  • I am a good friend. Or I am at least someone with a car.
  • If someone says they know how to use jumper cables, make sure they do. Especially if they are ignoring the printed directions.
  • It is not black-to-black, red-to-red.
  • Jumper cables can actually smoke and melt.
  • A car can probably not boost a truck.
  • Bicyclists are jumpy when they are in the car with me driving. It is very easy to push their buttons.

Ya do run run run, ya do run run

I miss running.
I’m still nursing my ankle, so I haven’t been out running in a long time. Ironically I purchased new runners on Thursday, but that was so I could use a coupon before it expired.
I can see it in my legs; They are losing that toned definition I so enjoyed. I used to have great sexy legs. Not so much now. I have been enjoying sleeping in on Sundays though.
I’ve been going on the exercycle for an hour each week in a futile attempt to help maintain my muscles. It gives me a chance to read all my magazines. It isn’t the same though. Not nearly as social. The biggest indication of how much I miss it is that yesterday I was thinking about how much fun it would be to do some hill training.
And we all know how much I like hill training.

Guys and dolls

Today I was accused of “You are such a guy”. It would be hypocritical for me to deny it. After all, I’ve accused others of “You are such a girl.”
There was an article in the newspaper yesterday about the differences between men and women. I suggest you read it yourself, but in essence it stated that women dwell on feelings while men try to move from feelings to actions. Men with problems are content to NOT talk about them whereas women might throw a pity party. Both solutions may help or hurt the people involved.
Five minutes after I read it, a co-worker came to me with a problem. A friend of his, that I only knew peripherally, had a brother who had died. He was wondering what he should do the next time they talked. Because of the article, my suggestion was “I’m sorry for your loss. Let’s play some poker.”
I showed it to him and he read the article and agreed.
It was like a weird feedback loop. The man used the article describing the method men use to solve problems to help solve a problem via said method.
Pfft. You are such a guy.

Fringe Festival 2007, Part 7

My final play of the fringe. I don’t think there are anymore that I will see. There are ones I would like to, but I have either seen them already, or they are sold out, or a combination of the two. Some are going to be holdovers, but I will be out of the province before I can see them.


It was funny, in a Greek tragedy sort of way. This is probably going to be one of the ones I remember for a long time. We can thank Jeff Page for that. He makes everything more interesting and funny. Even when things should be rather bleak.
This is not suitable for children. In fact I myself was rather disturbed by the events taking place when the actors, ahem, “walked” on stage. I thought that wouldn’t be in that pose for long, but no, they were like that for the entire play. That is stamina!

iPhone economics

This is a short vent.
I found this article about the unlocking of the iPhone. Essentially, the iPhone has been hacked by various people who can now use it on other networks than the one it was meant to, AT&T. You can now pay various people to do the same to your iPhone.
This person’s critique is that instead of paying them, we should donate to the “iPhone dev team” that did all the hard work of hacking into it and reverse engineering. They deserve the support more than these other people charging money.

And yet, I can’t help but think that if anyone deserves the money it would be Apple because they actually did the hardest work of all to bring the thing into creation.

Fringe Festival 2007, Part 6

God’s Eye

I don’t think I’m going to rate this one. I don’t feel qualified. It’s not the kind of play I tend to like, so I would rate it low. But it is the kind of theatre that leaves tears in the eyes of the audience. I’m an emotional cripple so I didn’t feel as moved. Maybe that is why I prefer comedic plays.

Fringe Festival 2007, Part 4

More plays!

The Headshot of Dorian Grey

Good play. Basically Office Space for theatre actors. It’s the annual David Belke romantic comedy; You can’t go too wrong with it.(7 out of 10)


The people in this troupe are awesome at story-telling. They did a fabulous job with “Letter’s in Wartime” last year. When they describe the war it is perfectly vivid. Unfortunately, they don’t play to their strengths here. It is a bunch of skits all dealing with water. It does get kind of preachy at times. But when they tell the story of a WWII pilot landing in the English Channel, you are there. (6 out of 10)

Napoleon’s Secret Diary

I didn’t particularly care for this. The premise is that France’s greatest general is an idiot and he has bumbled his way through history. And if they had stuck with that, it would have been better. But near the end, he starts showing signs of intelligence and it is harder to find him funny. I’m all about the funny. (5 out of 10)

Closing time

I wanted to go to West Edmonton Mall to get supplies for the trip. I had a play that ended at 3:15, so I got to the mall at 4:00. I started doing the shopping, not really rushing it.
Until I found out the mall closes at 5:00. Or rather, I found out that the mall had closed at 5:00.
So I didn’t get everything I needed. I’ll need to go back now.

Fringe Festival 2007, Part 3

Long day with four plays. But I did experience the joy of the traditional green onion cake.


Good play. Basically Office Space for the kitchen staff. The actor does an okay job of pretending to be the various people at the restaurant. The only thing I could ask for would be a more defined ending. It just petered out. (7 out of 10)

Picasso At The Lapin Agile

I enjoyed it. It is by Steve Martin, but it wasn’t wild and crazy guy. It was a more intellectual piece than just flat out slapstick. I went in expecting that a theatre school was involved because it had so many actors, but I stand corrected; professional actors who know what they are doing. (7 out of 10)


This play is what would happen if a Shakespearean play (complete with iambic pentameter) had the devil wandering through trying to help things along. This could have been a better play, but it went on too long. The first 45 minutes dragged and it was hard to pay attention. However, things started wrapping up nicely in the last half hour, greatly improving the quality. (6 out of 10)


Puppet burlesque; At times explicit puppet burlesque. There is audience participation in this, and strangely, the front row seems to be the safest spot to sit if you are introverted. A guy in the back middle got harassed the most. (5 out of 10)


At a party today the topic of conversation wandered into the professional lives of monsters.
Zombies: Lawyer. The newly risen zombies are typically wearing their Sunday best that they were buried in. i.e. A nice suit. They would look almost identical to a professional lawyer.
Werewolves: Working the rigs up north. They are already hairy so they should fit in. And they would do well working in the wilderness.
Frankenstein’s monster (original version): Day care centre. Sure he had problems with that one child, but I think he learned his lesson. He’s gentle and I think he would work well with kids.
Frankenstein’s monster (movie version): Demolitionist. I can totally see him working the big crane with the wrecking ball.
Mummy: Actuary. Clearly his previous job experience is ex-pharoah, but now I see him more in the long-term planning. Of course if he’s using one of the old style calculators he has to make sure he doesn’t accidentally use his bandage in the paper feed. Really, that’s just embarrassing and more worthy of Scooby-Doo.
Creature from the Black Lagoon: Sushi chef.
Godzilla: Open pit mining. But that is more a function of his size than any particular personal aptitude. He seems more like a people-person, so he might not like working alone in the wilderness, but then again he does have to contend with the radiation he gives off. Sometimes your body just doesn’t match your personality.

Fringe Festival 2007, Part 2

Dominatrix-quest continues. I didn’t find her at my brief stop at the Fringe today, but I did get some information; A newspaper article gave me some clues. I had initially thought that she was just wandering the fringe trying to promote a particular play, and that she would be doing this multiple times. Now I find that she was in the parade, so her appearance might have been a one time occurrence. She did appear with zombies, but looking through the guide for zombie plays makes me think that they were a different production that just happened to be nearby. I actually saw her going into the main building, so it might have been to change into something more respectable.
Anyway, I did see one play.


Excellent play. It helps to be up on pop culture for this one, but not completely necessary. It does a good job of mocking celebrity worship while pointing out that if you are famous, you can do whatever you want. Characters are funny and interesting. And there was the unexpected drag show. (8 out of 10)

Fringe Festival 2007, Part 1

Fringe has started and I’ve already got two plays under my belt. I do have a goal now though: I only saw her from a distance and couldn’t leave my spot in the line, but I really want to find out what play the woman dressed as a dominatrix was representing. Don’t tell me if you know, this is the kind of information I want to find out personally.

“Matt and Ben”

Well, every Fringe needs at least one drag show…
This was well done and had good humor. I think Jocelyn did a better job of portraying Ben than Belinda did of Matt. I felt the former acted (and looked) more like a guy would. I liked the name dropping and hints of the future sprinkled throughout. “I really love latino women.” (7 out of 10)

‘B’, or, Unless You Steal Her Pen!

This was the debut piece for the writer/director and you can see the rough edges. It’s amusing at times, but some of the jokes seem a little forced. My biggest problem was that there was smoking almost constantly throughout. I’ve been spoiled with anti-smoking legislation, so I found it annoying. In its defense, it is appropriate for a period piece. (4 out of 10)


Okay. I was up too late yesterday. I have noticed that I’m cranky.
For most of the day the crankiness has been manifesting as worry about the vacation. This comes in two ways:

  1. Financial
    My credit card bill came yesterday. I still have a lot of money but this one took a big bite out of it, what with the eye surgery, plane tickets and tour. I’ve been calculating it in my head and I will run out of money. At least I will in my checking account. I have money in investments, but I would rather not liquidate those. I think the solution is to talk to the bank and see if I can get a credit line or overdraft protection. I’m sure they’ll be able to suggest something.
  2. Social
    I went to dance lessons today. It didn’t go well. Maybe it is the bad mood?
    I got there at 8:00 and the instructor wasn’t there. I sat down and noticed how much I was dreading this. I was hoping the teacher wouldn’t show up. She did at 8:30, and we got into the lesson. I had trouble getting a partner; I guess some women wanted to dance with each other instead of a man. The partners I did get never really seemed to want to look me in the eye, looking anywhere else but the face. Or they didn’t speak English.
    None of the above fills me with confidence about my ability to be social in Europe. If I know people, I’m comfortable and can be entertaining. If I don’t, which will be everyone in the continent, then I just don’t have fun. If I can’t even handle a bar where I speak the language…
    Am I really right to go on this vacation?
  3. Readiness
    I haven’t gotten everything ready for this vacation. Planning has fallen to the wayside. I am easily distracted, which hasn’t helped.

Not looking for a pity party. Just making observations.

Who watches the watchmakers?

Huzzah. My watch came back yesterday. A lovely boxed package was waiting in my mailbox. It was mostly crushed paper protecting the valuable contents.
Well, valuable to me.
The sweet ecstasy of having a watch again is mine. At least a competent watch that probably wasn’t made by immigrant grandmothers in Nigeria.
But wait. Something is wrong.

This isn’t my watch!
My watch had a scrape along the side. (The other driver never left his information and just peeled out of there.) And no fancy plastic cover to protect it. And these buttons feel a lot springier than what I’m used to.
Those people were too lazy to replace the watchband and just gave me a new watch.

If I had any sentimental attachment to the previous one (that climbed over two mountain passes and navigated one marathon with me) I might be upset.

Good books

I went to Wee Book Inn today. It is the used book store that I am most likely to go to, because of convenient hours and location.
I was going through the Sci-fi/Fantasy section and I saw a lot of good books there. Books that I hadn’t expected to see. They’ve been out of print for awhile and are hard to find. Good condition too.

Wait a minute… These are mine!

I sold them those books last month when I was going through a book purge.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (Spoilers)

I suppose that it has been long enough that I am going to give my thoughts on the last Harry Potter book.


My biggest problem is that the people who should have died, lived, and the people who should have lived, died. The second biggest problem was that the book felt like an afterthought in plot.
If a Weasley was going to die, I was hoping it would be Ginny. I don’t like her. She was an afterthought relationship. Groundwork had been laid for Harry to get into a romance with Cho Chang. She seemed respectful enough. Then, out of nowhere, with nary a foreshadow in sight, Ginny leaps to front and center as the girlfriend.
I wouldn’t mind so much if there had been hints of it. But nothing.
It also seemed an afterthought in killing Tonks and Lupin. As near as I can remember, they were killed in one sentence and never referenced again. It was like she put it in at the last minute. You think there might have been some mention later of how horrible it was to have the baby, Teddy, be an orphan. That might have made me believe it was planned from the start, but this? Just sloppy.
I can only assume that Rowling is setting up for a sequel series where we follow the adventures of this new orphan. This was also pointed out by a friend of mine.
I have frequently mentioned my favorite author, Lawrence Watt-Evans. One of the things he did that impressed me a lot was in the end of The Unwilling Warlord. He devoted several pages to clearing up little plot threads that he had introduced; Some of which were clearly only obvious in his head. A paragraph was devoted to each and then we moved on. That was nice and tidy and didn’t interfere with the story.
I wish Rowling had done something like that. She could clear up her threads and still have a good story. I might have found if my theory on Umbridge was correct.

Bourne again

I just saw The Bourne Ultimatum. The initial plan was to see it last night, but it was sold out when we got there. (Darn date night!) So instead we rented a movie (Ocean’s Eleven) and watched that. We made attempt two this afternoon.
It was good. A nice action movie where the main character actually seems to get hurt. Matt Damon spends a good chunk of the film limping. It doesn’t seem to last though.
The biggest problem I had was the same with the last movie: They mixed up the Steadicam with a paint shaker. At no point was the camera ever still. My friend got a nasty headache from watching. I avoided it by closing my eyes and resting them every so often.
It looks like there were some great stunts and action scenes, but I really couldn’t tell. The camera was too shaky.
I would still recommend it, but be aware of the above caveats.
It doesn’t make the Americans look good though. It may, in their eyes, do that, but to the rest of the world it looks bad. The CIA does whatever they want, wherever they want. Indiscriminately killing, and the term rendition was bandied about. It pretty much stereotypes what many foreign countries would think of Americans at the present, and not the good thoughts.


I went dancing tonight.
It was weird. I knew I should go, and yet in my heart I didn’t want to. Still I forced myself and I had a good time. My only concern is that my ankle is feeling a bit off.
That may be because I ran for thirty seconds on Sunday. Or it could be because of the dancing.
I’m still going to try and go again next week.

Erik’s Dam: A story in pictures

This is basically a pictorial history of my dam.

Erik’s Dam: 2006-10-9
Originally uploaded by ad_havoc

This is the dam as it was in October of last year. I had come in September and started work on it. I came back later and this is how it looked when I was done.

Erik’s Dam: 2007-6-23
Originally uploaded by ad_havoc

This is the dam in June of this year. The spring runoff has completely covered it. It was quite discouraging to see this and I didn’t think I would ever work on it again.

Erik’s Dam: 2007-8-4
Originally uploaded by ad_havoc

This is the dam as it appeared yesterday. It is surprisingly intact. You can easily use it to cross with only a bit of wetness. I went to the farside to do most of my construction. You can see the three sluices that cut through it. There are other places water is going through but those are mostly waterfalls and are easy to cover up with more rocks.
I wish my camera hadn’t run out of batteries after these pictures. I could have then showed you the changes I had made.

Interestingly, I think someone else has been messing with my dam. I don’t know if I should be pleased or indignant. I think I’m leaning towards pleased.
My proof: If you look in the June 2007 picture, there is a root ball, or big pile of branches, on the far shore. A bit to the right and down, in the creek you can see a large rock sticking out of the water. If you look at the August 2007 picture, it is gone. I don’t think it washed away so I can only suspect I’m getting help.

Dam it all

Today my family went out into the Kananaskis, to where my dam used to be. Last year I was in the location twice. The first time was at the start of September and I started work on the dam; Mostly taking nearby rocks and piling them up as appropriate. Part of the construction was a large log lying nearby that did a great job of supporting some of the flat rocks used.
The next time was in the middle of October and I successfully blocked the entire creek/river. The top of the dam was completely dry and all the water was flowing through the cracks between the rocks.
During the K-100 relay in June I was able to see the dam again. The park had been closed off for half a year so anything could have happened to it. In fact, it had. The dam was gone. The spring runoff had put everything deep underwater. You could barely see any evidence it had ever been there.
Well, imagine my surprise today when I got there. The water had come down, and you could clearly see the dam. It had damage, sure, but it was still doing most of its original purpose. The big rocks had all stayed put, but three sluices had been forced through it. I suspect two of them were from when the big log floated away. Rocks were no longer being braced and tumbled downstream.
I took a few pictures. Then my camera died. Out of batteries, and the replacement ones I had brought were apparently too old to keep a charge. So no more pictures for the rest of the day. (Unfortunate, I had some good ones planned.)
Then I got to work. I focused on moving really large rocks. They have the best chance of staying where they should and not washing away. You still need the smaller rocks to fill in cracks, but the big ones are key. Of course they are hard to push, and I hope I haven’t damaged my shoulder right before my Europe trip. (Fingers crossed.) There was a lot of yelling at the rocks as I tried to force them up against the current. I wanted to use downstream rocks the most, because upstream ones might someday wash into the dam. I think I even reused some of the rocks that had fallen from last year.
Unfortunately, while I was clambering over one of the sluices, I looked down and my sunglasses fell off my face, right into the rushing water. Whether they stayed in the area or washed downstream, I don’t know. The water was too frothy to have any idea. I settled the argument by putting a really large rock right where they had fallen.
But still, I had fun. When I was done, I still had one sluice left. But I am proud of this. No post-forest products were used in its construction, and large, hard to move rocks were braced well. It will be a lot harder to wash this away. It will still be underwater during the next spring runoff, but it should start doing its job well in the summer next year.
I wish I could have taken an after picture.