Scheduling hints

Halloween is a good time to go to the drop in clinic. Everyone is out trick or treating, so there is no line.
Mind you, it still takes too long for the doctor to show up.

No problems. Just worried about a persistent cough. He thinks that it is just after-effects from a previous sickness, exacerbated by dry air. So I think the best thing to do would be to find some humid air. Maybe at an island community in the caribbean.
Yes. That should do nicely.

I miss Casey and Finnegan

I’d like a tickle trunk.
Of course they don’t make the magical ones, as seen on TV. But it would be nice to have a chest filled with costume props.
The reason I mention this, besides it being close to Halloween, is that in an improv class I took, it looked like it would be really useful. Students were encouraged to bring props to the class. And then we would come up with characters, using the brought items to inspire us. The more props available, the more varied the possibility of characters.
Of course, I can’t see much use in day-to-day life.

Bedroom eyes

Last night, for my costume, I put on some make-up to give myself a scarier face. Almost all of it washed off in the shower before I went to bed.
Except the eye-liner.
This morning it is still there, even after going to the gym to exercise. My usual method of removing stubborn make-up, rubbing harder, doesn’t work on the eyes when you aren’t sure how recovered they are from the laser surgery. From a distance, I must say, it brings out my eyes. But when I peer closer, I look like a confused 80’s rock star.
I am not Johnny Depp.

New City Halloween party 2007

Before I left, I was really thinking about how much I was going to enjoy tomorrow. I would have a day at home where I could clean up everything, cook a nice meal, and go out to a coffee place and work on the computer.
I guess I was setting myself up for low expectations.
And I had a great time at the party! The wings worked fine and the only thing that broke was something that I hadn’t touched but wouldn’t be out of place through normal wear and tear. I didn’t spread my wings more than once. They do become huge and somewhat unmanageable. And also a bit difficult to get folded in again.
And I talked to many nice girls. One of them was also very into wings and tails. And she let me know it. It was everything I could hope for and more. I got email addresses where I am supposed to send pictures. Let’s hope I do something more with them this time.
While getting ready to go, I dumped out the bag of all the accessories that go with the costume. On top of it was a card for the person who made them. However, on the back was the email address of the subcontractor who actually built the frame and mechanical parts. This is good!
Although it is only good if she hasn’t talked to her old boss.

Easier to pass through the eye of a needle

Seems to work. Now I just need to wrap everything up. I’ll get out my old sewing kit which should have some strong black thread in it.
Except it doesn’t.
Irony! I just gave away a huge bunch of sewing equipment last month.
It does have some black thread. It just doesn’t look very strong. Or I can use the white thread that does look strong.
I do have a black marker…

As long as we stick together

Aw man.
Not a loose bolt. It looks like the PVC pipe that makes up the main support struts was just glued in. That isn’t surprising, but it does make my job harder. The glue must have gotten loose after all the pressure and isn’t supporting itself anymore.
They’ve taped over the joint so I can’t separate the pieces easily and reglue. Even if I could, I don’t think I have the time to let the glue set. I’m going to take out the drill and make a hole through the pipe and then jam a screw through it.
Hopefully that will get it to stay.

The problems keep mounting

I didn’t go out to a Halloween party yesterday night. The stress and anger over my costume was just not putting me into a party mood. That and I didn’t have the energy to repair it. So I went to a non-costume party at some friends.
When I got home I had more energy so I started doing the repairs. Some glue needed to dry overnight so it was better to do it earlier than later. A caulking gun would have been nice, but I don’t think it was truly necessary.
This morning I installed the new pieces. A few errors were made, but nothing too serious. However, when I tried it on this morning, there was some groaning sounds. That is not good on a mechanical device. Although my repairs were fine, it revealed another problem.
When I picked up my wings on Thursday they had been bound up so that they took up less room. Now that I think about it, they may have been like that for an entire year. I guess the stress caused one of the wings to come loose. Now the new weight is causing the right one to droop.
I think a bolt just needs to be tightened. The problem this time is that the bolt is inaccessible. I need to start ripping cloth apart to get to the attachment. And then I have to hope my theory is correct.
I’ve been trying to be forgiving of her. But now I despise her with the hate of a thousand burning suns.

Broken Promises/Wings

I was hoping this once to have a stress free Halloween. Unfortunately it was not meant to be.
For the past few years I have had a lot to deal with around this time. I’ve taken three trips to Jamaica about now which require work to prepare for. Plus trying to get a costume ready for the Halloween parties has its own dilemmas. Halloween is the one time of the year that I like going to bars. Girls are easy to approach when you compliment them on their costume. So it is an important weekend for me. My one time of the year when I can feel normal. (Irony?)
This year was going to be different. The vacation should be easy to prepare for because I just came off one that had a lot of similar elements. I just have to be lazy on unpacking and my work is half done. The costume was going to be easy, I’ll just use the one from last year again.
Two years ago I had a costume custom made for me. A scary demon with cool moving wings. It was great. Last year when I wore it, there were some technical difficulties. The first party I went to, one of the cables/strings that operate the wings broke. I was able to figure out what was going on and repair it myself before the party the next day. However, due to the first injury, a support strut had gotten weak and broke during that party. This malfunction seemed more than I could handle, so I took it back to the manufacturer to ask her to see if she could repair it. That was on the 31st of October, so it wasn’t a rush order. I didn’t need it until next Fall.
Around July I was getting concerned. It still had not been repaired but she said she would be done during the next weekend. That is the last I heard from her for some time. I made another request hoping that I could get them before I left on my European vacation. I still didn’t hear back.
On the 16th of October I finally got word from her that she would try to be done by the weekend or the beginning of the next week. She was super busy. That is cutting it close because I wanted to have them back on Thursday (i.e. today) so I could use them at a Halloween party tomorrow. I sent her an email on Monday asking for an update. No response.
Yesterday, the stress was killing me. So I sent an email just asking her for the wings back and I would do my own poor-man repairs. I figured that if I hadn’t heard from her by now, she probably still wasn’t done and I should just try and do it myself. I thought I had been very patient. Of course, email always makes people sound angrier than they are. And reading it again, it does sound insulting.
She has now replied back, and she is angry with me. I have given her attitude. She has thrown out the repaired piece. I am never to contact her again for anything.
At least I got my broken wings back.
But now I’m feeling like a monster. A stressed monster. I am trying very hard to tell myself otherwise. She has had nearly a year to work on them and has given me a string of broken promises. I gave them to her with a long deadline precisely so this kind of stuff wouldn’t happen.
I still emailed her an apology, but she did say I am never to contact her, so she probably won’t even read it. I have gone and done a tour of hardware stores and I’m going to try and make my own repairs tonight. Last minute. i.e. More stress.

I think I am semi-friends (via Friday Feasts) with a relative of hers.

Mental problems

You might say meticulous, but really, let’s accept that I am anal retentive.
I keep careful track of where my money is coming and going. To the cent. It would probably have been for the best if Quicken had not come pre-installed on my first computer.
So, on my travels through Europe, in the same book that I kept forthcoming journal entries, I kept track of what I had purchased. And every so often I would do the math (sans calculator) to confirm that I had the correct amount of money in my wallet.
It’s sad really.
Now, I want to enter all this data into my computer. I won’t feel right until I do. (Don’t judge me!) However I have hit a snag. Due to a discrepancy between the starting money between my notebook and my computer, I am forced to believe that I left some extra money in my home. It sounds like something I would do to avoid carrying around extra change.
The exact problem is that I don’t know where this missing $19.58 is.
Did I hide it that well? Or did I spend that in the four days before I left on the trip?

I really need to get rid of this mental affliction.

Farming fear

On Friday I went out to the Farm of Fear. I thought it was the corn maze at night populated with zombies and other scary people. (Vampires would be too sophisticated to hang out in a corn maze. Frankenstein’s monster doesn’t seem malicious enough to be a threat. Werewolves would fit in well.)
Anyway, I was wrong. It was a barn made up to be a haunted house. I went in hoping to be scared, but it wasn’t meant to be. That was the problem though. I knew there were supposed scary things in there, but I also knew that nothing bad could happen. (Lawyers would get involved if it did.)
So there was no fear. When creepy guys in hockey masks came out, all I could do was say hello. And I feel I disappointed them. These guys are working hard to scare me and I couldn’t make the effort to act frightened. The best I could hope for was to be surprised, and that happened when various doors slammed shut.
I am envious of the girls who were in the corn part being chased by the guy with the chainsaw. They sounded really scared. And yet when I got there, I knew what was coming. No fear. The guy did seem tired though. He had been running through the corn all night with a heavy piece of farm machinery.
I tried to help. I hid in the corn and jumped out at the next party coming through.

Eurotrip summary

I’ve been back in Edmonton for a week now. I think I have enough distance that I can comment on the Eurotrip as a whole.
I was extremely lucky with the weather. I have heard about their summer being cold and rainy. Yet the weather was great almost the entire time I was there. The one day it was completely overcast is the day I got a sunburn (I was above the clouds on top of a mountain). Except for Denmark; There it did get rainy.
The Contiki tour was perfect for me. It kept me busy the entire time. I like to be kept busy. I got to see the highlights of Europe and I now have a better idea of what areas I would like to spend more time in. I did see other tours that had better busses. Some had television or two levels. A Danish tour bus had free alcohol in its storage locker, available at stops.
The problem with tour buses is that they are hermetically sealed. If anyone gets sick, everyone eventually gets it. I think there were two different illnesses that made the rounds. And they smoke everywhere in Europe, so colds get aggravated. That is one thing I really enjoy back in Canada is cleaner air. But when you are sick, you should drink lots of water. I would have tried to drink more water, but they make it hard there. The restaurants don’t want to serve tap water when they could instead charge you for bottled water. This put a damper on the guzzling I usually do at dinner. I think the only public water fountain I ever saw was in Paris.
And because alcohol is cheap there, it is probably more economical to drink beer. The local pop drink, Fanta, was a nice change from the usual. But after a few tastes I still prefer Coke. Right now though, I am sick of it. I drank too much on the airplane home and I started getting a burning feeling in my stomach. I take that as a bad sign.
If you say Gesundheit to someone in Germany, they might think you actually speak German. It may get awkward.
I saw many museums in Europe. They are quite prolific, but I don’t think they are my thing. Unless there is an interesting topic behind them, or there are rides, museums are rather boring. I did find that after going to the Louvre and the Vatican Museum, you effectively have a Get-out-of-Museum-Free card. If anyone says you should see their local museum, you can just say that you have already been to the big ones, and anything else would just be disappointing.
Looking at the architecture is slightly better than going to museums. For one thing you don’t have to pay. And since most are functional, you can try and use them. For example, climbing them. And most buildings look so much better than Edmontonian ones. Even the concrete bunkers of apartments seem classier.
Unfortunately, there was scaffolding everywhere. I don’t think I saw any historical buildings that didn’t have some scaffolding draped over part of it. And come to think of it, I don’t ever recall seeing anyone using the scaffolding to repair a building. Berlin was the worst. But then they seem to be trying to rebuild the entire eastern part of the city.
While I was gone, the iPod touch came out. An iPod that allows you to use wireless hotspots to browse the web. That would have been insanely useful for this trip. In many places, wireless was free, but internet cafes usually cost money. And while trying to log the trip, I used more internet than I would have cared to.
I also discovered the George Clooney shills a lot. I kept seeing his face on advertisements. Everywhere! Someone pointed out that it was just for a coffee and a watch, but they were so prolific.
I had hoped to “find myself” on this trip. I don’t think I did. I still feel the same as I always do. The biggest benefit is that I found I enjoy physical activities with friends. Bicycling in Edam, tobogganing in Switzerland, whitewater rafting in Austria. I just need friends who want to go out and do things like that. Friends are the key. The big disappointment on the trip was that I didn’t have anyone to share it with.

How to spend 17 hours in London

If I had arrived in London five hours earlier, my night would have been completely different. I would have put my luggage into storage as previously described, but when I stepped out of the train station, my eyes would fall upon the big poster covering the side of a nearby building, advertising the contents.
I would have had plenty of times to go and see Wicked. I would have been a cultured person. Instead of a homeless one.

Entries from Edmonton

I went running today. I think it went well, My ankle didn’t feel too bad. But I guess tomorrow will be when I really find out.
Posting entries to this journal is going to become weird. While in Europe it was easy. Everything was exciting simply because it was in Europe. I could comment on the completely mundane, things I would never do while in Edmonton. Now I have to try and think of only interesting things.

Yeah. This isn’t going to be easy.

I made the trip safely.
It seems someone has decided to call an election while I was gone. Voting is today. I am normally very proud to vote. And insistent too. But right now, I have no idea of the candidates or the issues.
I do continue to support Stephen Mandel as mayor. Unless he has done something in the past month that I don’t know about. Has he been discovered to be snatching street orphans and using them in sacrifices to the dark lord of the river? Hasn’t been covered in Europe.
I am skipping voting. I’ll do more harm than good.

I have to go to work. I had a good night’s sleep. Nothing should prevent me from going off and being a productive member of society.
Except that I haven’t driven a car in at least six weeks.
Is it like riding a bicycle?


Okay, I’m back home safe and sound. You can cease worrying. Everything seemed to go well in customs. I declared I was over the limits on a few things. They declared that they didn’t really care and appreciated my honesty.
I have stayed awake until now to prove I don’t have jetlag. Now that I have the moral high ground, I am going to bed.

Over Rankin Inlet

Journal entries while in flight are difficult, especially east to west flights. The time change can make them appear out of order. I think I have this correct.
I have been fed. I have been watered. I have been entertained (Fracture.) I have even napped.
I have not showered. I have not brushed my teeth. I have not shaved. I’m going to look terrible when I arrive.
They showed a commercial for The Keg. I haven’t had Alberta beef in a long time. I do need to eat out tonight…
I also haven’t eaten at a McDonalds in a similar period of time. In the new millenium I didn’t eat a greasy hamburger for a year and a half. I’m tempted to try that again. The problem is that fast food is cheap and awfully convenient at times. Everything in moderation?
I had wanted to buy a book before the flight. I even knew which one I wanted, a particular novel that might not be available in Canada. With my Sistine Chapel sprint through security, I never got the chance.
Or get the chance to get my taxes returned to me for my leather jacket.

How not to spend 12 hours in London

I can’t do anything right. Not even live like a homeless person.
I put my suitcase into storage and wandered around London. I always seem to gravitate to the Westminster area here, so I can say the London Eye lights up well. A person had said the Soho area, near Charing cross station, never sleeps, so I headed there. I did find some bars, but none seemed that good to me. I’m picky.
I wandered down an avenue through a park. It ended at a statue in front of a bank. A nearby map corrected me. That’s no bank! That’s where my sovereign lives.
Eventually I found myself back at the train station. I looked around for some of the hostels that supposedly litter the area. I couldn’t find any. So instead of wild partying in London, I waited in a chair at the station. Essentially like a homeless person. Which, let’s not fool ourselves, I was. The place was cold so I didn’t have much luck sleeping. I assumed it was because the station has holes in the walls for the trains, so outside air was keeping it frigid. No. I found out later the A/C was going on the whole time. I would have been better resting outside.
At 7:00 AM the luggage storage opened and the subways would start. So now all I have to do is collect my luggage and go to Heathrow. Check in closes at 11:00 AM. Plenty of time. (I later thought I should have gone around while things were opening and had a breakfast.)
Except the London Underground hates tourists. A convenient line was closed down, but it was easy to work around that. Far more difficult was that the DLR, the only line running to the hotel with my luggage, was completely shut down. It took me fifteen minutes to learn they had buses running to compensate. These were quite a bit slower.
So, get off at the correct station, hop on bus, go to hotel, get other luggage (oh, this feels heavy), get back on the bus, back to the station, then Jubilee line to the Piccadilly line that will take me to Heathrow.
Time was getting close. I arrived fifteen minutes before check-in closed. Actually, that helped me; I got to jump the queue in places. A couple who were also jumping the queue were just a bit behind me and they didn’t make it. They’re now going to Calgary.
Right now, I’m on my flight. My luggage all weighed a correct amount (barely). That is a huge relief. Of course, the only thing I’ve eaten in the past 24 hours has been a street vendor hot dog. The last drink before the flight was a coke at 3:00 in the afternoon yesterday. (They gave me some water when I boarded.)
I’m tired.

Sleepless in London

It looks like option two may be out. At the airport they mentioned that there was a conference and all the hostels and cheap hotels had been filled. What kind of conference fills up all the hotels in LONDON? The council of Daves?
But they also said there was luggage storage in Victoria station. Option one is looking better.
While at the airport, I changed into clothes better able to handle local weather conditions. I found in my luggage that I hadn’t closed the lid of my shampoo bottle. It got the bottom of a shoe, a rain jacket, and the leather jacket I planned to wear around London.
I wish I had a way to contact some friends here. But this is last minute.

Flight plan

Now comes the slog home. And it is looking sloggy. My flight to London has been delayed an hour. So I have an hour and a half before we even think of getting airborne. As long as it isn’t canceled. My flight to Edmonton isn’t until noon tomorrow so delays don’t worry me.
I should be slightly worried that I don’t have a place to stay tonight. I have two options on that front.

  1. Put my luggage into storage and wander the streets of Soho all night. Living the dream. Advantages: Bragging rights. Cheap. Disadvantages: No actual sleep until I’m on the plane.
  2. In Victoria station I can go to tourist information where they can recommend a hostel. Go to the hostel, use them as storage, and then go enjoy London. Advantages: More sleep. Disadvantages: Very little sleep.

It depends how I feel after the flight. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, so that may affect my decision. A big issue is that I need to go to the east end of London and collect stored luggage at my old hotel and take it to Heathrow on the far west end.
Hoping the luggage is under the weight limit.

Last night in Lisbon

In the early evening a bunch of us climbed up the hill to go to a cliffside garden. We brought wine and cheese and had a nice time watching it get dark.
After dinner we went to a club called Lux. It’s supposedly co-owned by John Malkovich, but that might be an honorary title. There were some famous DJs there tonight, 2manydjs. I didn’t care for them, but they did make the entire club crowded. Way too crowded to enjoy anything. You couldn’t dance for all the people around. When we left at around 4:00 there was still a huge line of people waiting to get in.
That is all.

Fourth day in Lisbon

I seem to have a ongoing problem. I want to do things with other people and not just be alone. Whenever I try to do things that other people are planning for tomorrow, the other people will have changed their mind the next day. They won’t go. If I don’t do what they are planning, they will invariably have the time of their lives.
Yesterday, several people planned to go to the beach today. Okay, so I will skip the day trip I was interested in, and go to the beach too. It should be great with multiple people.
Guess how many were still interested this morning.
I still went. But I didn’t stay as long.
A beautiful Italian woman did follow me home from the train station. She needed a place to stay and was willing to go to my hostel even though I thought it was already full. It was, but she was able to get connected and find a place to stay.

Third day in Lisbon

If you are traveling alone, you have the advantage that you can do whatever you want without having to justify it. The disadvantage is you have no one to fall back on.
Today I went to the beach. It took me awhile to get going; I was trying to find anyone else interested in coming as well. No one. So, I hop on the train to Estoril and spent the afternoon there. I had other options for the destination, but after arriving, this place seemed fine. Not crowded with people, but still enough to interact with. And hopefully someone I can trust to look after my stuff while I’m swimming.
I met a pretty girl from London. She is here working as a dancer for a local casino. She thinks I should come see her show. It’s apparently like Cirque du Soleil. However it is at 11:00 at night and I’ve made plans for tonight. Tomorrow I might not get in because there are private shows.
Talking with girls makes sunbathing much more tolerable.
I’ve enjoyed Portugal. The place seems more civilized than most warm countries I’ve been to. I don’t see the ultrapoor making me feel guilty, and I feel reasonably safe among the locals. I am getting annoyed by the hash dealers who always seem to descend on me and won’t take “No” for an answer. But so far my worst experience was my late lunch in Estoril.
I ordered food, and he brought some other items that I thought were complimentary. Why would I expect to be charged for a basket of bread that was placed unasked in front of me. I suppose you can see where this is going. In the end though, it saved me money. The bait dishes were fairly cheap, and was less than the tip the waiter was going to get before he pulled this scam.
Tonight, I wish I had gone to the casino to see the show. My plan was to go to a bar, Capella, a pretty girl recommended and said she might see me there tonight. (Since found out to have a boyfriend.) But that expedition never got off the ground. People around here wandered off aimlessly and didn’t feel like going.
I might go tomorrow since the show will be done at 12:30 and things don’t seem to happen here until after 2:00 AM.

A traitor walks among us

I think my guidebook has it out for me. It is now batting zero for three on guiding me to places. Two hostels that had moved, and now a restaurant that is no more.
I wanted to eat outside the hostel for one night. The food here is good, but I should try something else. My guidebook recommended a place called Bom Apetite that wasn’t too far. Off I go to find it closed down. I was able to find another place where I got grilled sardines. They were good, but messy. And the heads were still on. I don’t like when my food judges me.
In my defense, the guidebook was published in 2007. I don’t think I’m unreasonable in expecting accuracy.

Second day in Lisbon

I did a walking tour today. I climbed up to Castel de Sao Jorge. Nice place with good views. The Tower of Ulysses was the best part. They have a mirror on the roof that reflects everything onto a parabolic surface. Essentially it is a periscope on Lisbon that everyone in the room can use at the same time. Crystal clear picture quality too.
I walked back and tried the Elevador de Santa Justa. It’s an elevator as designed by a student of Gustav Eiffel. It’s a thrilling as it sounds. I used it to get to the Bairro Alto area where there was an English bookstore I wanted to go to. I want to go to the beach soon, and I need reading material to keep my sanity. I was going to buy a book at the Gatwick airport, but when they print the Canadian price next to the British price, they looked too expensive. Having now gone to the local bookstore, the bar on expensive has been raised.
I wandered/got lost through Bairro Alto until I got back to the hostel where I proceeded to rest.

Movie night

After dinner (Gazpacho soup and three different pastas) we watched the movie 300. Around 1:00 in the morning I was told some people were going for a walk. That sounded better than doing nothing so I joined up. Actually it was a walk to the bar. But we’re all friends here.
When we got back we watched more TV. This time many episodes of the delightful children’s show “Happy Tree Friends”. Actually, no. It’s a horrible show with smiling, happy animals dying in gruesome, graphic ways. I think Lumpy has the best survival rate, given that Flippy, The Mole and Splendid are just there to cause mayhem.