Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well, it's been a complete year of doing a new thing every day. Expect a wrap up in the next couple of days.

Today I followed different New Year's traditions. (I believe I stole this idea from Sydney originally).

I ate cabbage, which are meant to resemble money and bring fortune in Denmark and the southern U.S.

I ate pork, which is another symbol of prosperity (in Austria, Germany, Portugal & Spain).

(The pork & cabbage were combined in cabbage rolls.)

I also ate 12 grapes, which again is to ensure future prosperity.

It's interesting that most of the traditions involve prosperity. I would think there would be more things that might be important in the new year.

Now I'm off to do something that's not really a tradition - I'm going to bed long before midnight. (I have to leave for the airport at 4:30 a.m. & I'm really tired.)

Happy New Year, all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Packing to go home


I head home early on New Year's Day. (Actually, very early on New Year's Day - apparently I need to be at the airport at 5 a.m.). Today I did something I've been threatening to do for almost 5 years - I packed my niece in my suitcase. She thought it was a big joke, but I did have to promise that I wouldn't actually take her back to Ottawa with me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A sew-sew day

(Edited to add the picture.)


Today I visited my uncle. He recently got married, and as part of the cleanup/merge of the two households, they found an old sewing machine.

Today I played with an old hand-crank sewing machine. It is powered only by your right hand turning a crank. It doesn't use bobbins - instead it uses a spindle. I didn't realize sewing machines like that existed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gregory

Today we got together with some relatives I hadn't yet seen this trip. We met at my cousin Nancy's, and I met her son Gregory. He is 7 months old, and is getting close to crawling (but currently only spins in a circle). I had not seen some of the other kids in a couple of years. Oddly, they are all getting bigger. I am a little confused as to why that keeps happening.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Make believe


When I was a kid, one of my favourite shows was Mr. Dressup. It's a Canadian show, and the star (Mr. Dressup, actually) had a trunk of costumes for acting out different things. He also was big on drawing and crafts. He used to make trees and hats out of newspaper.

Today I made trees and hats out of newspaper.

It was harder than it looked, and I had to look up instructions for the hats. The first hat I made was too big for my niece. The second was too small. You'd think the third would be just right, but you would be wrong - it was (apparently) a little too big.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Not really a Christmas tradition

Today my mom & I made fish & chips. This is something I rarely make - probably less than once a year, and always at my mom's place. Today I also made onion rings. Lately I have developed a love for onion rings, and the ones I made were very tasty.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Breaking the camel's back

The afternoon of Christmas day tends to mean that my family sits around and plays games. This year two people got new games for Christmas, so I played Straw and Wizard. Wizard is a game where you predict how many tricks you will take and gain or lose points based on how accurate you were. Straw is a game where you add cards (with different weights) to a camel's back. If you go over the limit, his back breaks and you add up points.

Both were entertaining (and compact, thus easy to carry).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wii!

In my family, we open our gifts Christmas eve. It has evolved so that we go over to my aunt & uncle's place for supper, then open our gifts.

We were there before supper today, so I got a chance to play their wii. I tried the golf, the boxing, and the bowling. It took a while to get the hang of it, but it was fun. The boxing was excellent, but I didn't play for too long as it was too much of a workout for the circumstances.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hanging out with my niece

We finally arrived around 10 (local time) last night.

Today my mom & I went to the spa. (Her birthday is just before Christmas, so this is her usual birthday present.)

After that, I took my niece shopping for her mom's Christmas gift. I have to say, she has good taste for a 4 year old.

I also got to put her to bed tonight, so I flossed someone else's teeth. Luckily, she's quite patient.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bubble breaker

Today is another day I'm spending in airports. My first flight tried to leave 30 minutes late, but they couldn't get the gate detached from the plane, so it actually left 1.5 hours late.

Flights throughout the country are a mess. Halifax airport was closed, and flights were getting cancelled. There were people in Ottawa airport lying on blankets on the floor. (I don't know where they were trying to go). I'm in Winnipeg, and when we got here we waited for 30 minutes before a gate was available. (Luckily I had 4 hours between flights, because by the time we got off the plane it was only 2 hours - but, of course, my next flight was delayed 45 minutes.) I don't think there are any flights on the departures board that are not delayed. It's a mess.

However, as a result of the chaos, I had a lot of time, so I played bubble breaker on my sister's cell phone. It's an entertaining game. Sadly, her battery is now dead.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I can't believe we ever looked like that

I mentioned a while ago that I bought a hard drive DVD recorder. As a result, my VCR has been moved to the basement. It's not actually set up down there, and one of the things I always intended to do was to copy some old Christmas home videos from tape to a DVD.

Today I hooked my VCR up to the DVD recorder and transferred some old home movies. First I transferred the movies to the hard drive. Some of them are very choppy and hard to watch, but they also have what is probably the last picture of my grandma. Also, there is a clip of my grandpa singing O Christmas Tree in German. His parents immigrated from Germany, but the year my grandmother died (when he was 77) was the first time I remember him speaking German. My sister would sing O Tannenbaum, and he would then sing the next line in German.

Once the movies were on the hard drive, I set up a dubbing list and started transferring them to a DVD.

The problem with doing it this way is that you have to play the whole thing a second time to transfer it to a DVD.

It is not done transferring yet, but hopefully it will finish before I fall asleep.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chesnuts roasting on an open fire


Today was fun. I got together with friends for lunch at the Elgin St. Diner. Afterwards, we wandered through the Rideau Centre, which is the main mall downtown. It wasn't all that busy, considering that it's the weekend before Christmas. I suspect that the bus strike is the cause.


However, that's not the only new thing I did today.


Yesterday I was short of ideas so I was reading through Sydney's archives. As a result, I realized that people actually roast chesnuts over a fire. (It's not just the song.) The grocery was selling chesnuts today, so I roasted chesnuts over an open fire. I was expecting them to split or something. Instead, they basically burnt - they looked like coals. The shells then got very soft, so that you could actually peel them. The nut itself was soft and chewy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh, the weather outside is frightful


Today I made a snowman snowflake. This gave me the opportunity to realize I have no idea how to make a snowflake in general. However, I eventually figured it out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's my name again?

This is another stolen idea - I think it was Kathy who did this months ago. Anyway, I spelled "Colette2008" with Spell with flickr

Alphabet Block c o-sf3 L E25 T T e grave 2 DSCN5654 Wood Type 0 8

It's really easy to change the selected picture - but not easy to change back.


As an added bonus, here's my answers to a meme from Crystal. It's not my personal list, and it's heavy on places in the U.S. and Europe, but still interesting.


Things I've done in my life (in bold):
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - it was closed when I was there
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - I've been to France, but did not see the Mona Lisa
20. Slept on an overnight train - Nope, but I've slept on planes and ferries.
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - Technically no, but I've felt sick and miraculously gotten better once I called in.
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice - I've seen them, but was too cheap to ride in one.
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run - Clearly the person who created this has never seen me play softball/baseball
32. Been on a cruise - Mediterranean cruise, 2005. I'd highly recommend it
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors - Ireland 2004, Germany 2008
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person - Yup. It is surrounded by buildings, which was a surprise.
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa - Three times - twice to Botswana, once to Tunisia (for 4 hours - see #32)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person - Yup. It's not really impressive because by the time you get there, you've spent 2 hours going through the museums, which are incredible
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - Yup. I have pictures taken from the top where you can see the shadow
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies - Girl Guide cookies, actually
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - only twice, and I fainted the first time
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - I don't remember having a specific favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job - I've been laid off, but not fired
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone - my arm when I was 11 or 12 - and probably a toe & a kneecap as an adult, but I didn't bother going to the doctor (although if I'd realized I'd hurt my knee as badly as I did, I probably would have)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper - possibly when I was a kid?
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee - I've been stung by a wasp, but not a bee
100. Rode an elephant

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Work those lats

Only 2 working days left for 2008. I can't wait. Since we're closed as of the end of day Friday, and it keeps snowing, and there's a transit strike that makes traffic very slow, fewer and fewer people are showing up at the office every day. I might work from home on Friday if no one is around.

However, none of that has anything to do with my new thing for today. This is one of those things that I could have done anytime, but didn't .

I've talked about going to the gym before. Most of the time I go for specific classes - it has been over a year since I went simply to work out on the machines. The gym I go to has treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes. It also has a strength training circuit with a bunch of machines. I've used most of those machines in the past, but there's one that has always intimidated me - the lat pulldown station. It consists of a bench you sit on, along with handles above your head (attached to weights) that you pull down.

Today I tried the lat pulldown machine. As is typical of things like that, it wasn't nearly as scary or difficult as I had built it up to be in my mind.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Feeding via pressing a button

(Edited to correct the number of days left. For some reason, I thought it was Dec. 14 all day yesterday. It was not. )

You'd think that since I have only 15 days left, I'd be doing big things these days. However, today was not that kind of day. Instead, I borrowed an idea from Jen S. and donated a meal via Cascade Feeds America.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yogurt

Today I made yogurt cheese.

You start with natural yogurt (with no setting agents like gelatin). You line a strainer with cheesecloth, put it over a container, and put the yogurt in the strainer, cover the yogurt with plastic wrap (or, in my case, a plastic bag), and then put it in the fridge for several hours.

The yogurt becomes concentrated. You can then use it instead of sour cream in dips, etc.
I inadvertantly bought vanilla yogurt instead of plain, so I ended up with really thick yogurt. It was very enjoyable.

I was amazed - I got almost a soup bowl full of liquid out of one container of yogurt.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pizza

Today I made pizza dough in the bread machine. I rarely make homemade pizza. (I think it has been over 10 years since the last time), but that was what I decided to make today. Since I knew I was going to be out until 3 or so, so putting the dough in the bread machine seemed like the thing to do. It worked well, and the pizza was tasty.

I also played a new game. I do not recall the name of the game, but it involved creating pathways for the tokens to move on. You were out when your token got maneuvered off the board. It was fun, and a good game to play with a group of people.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let them eat cake

My first new thing for today was a new thing I had been holding in reserve, as it was something I would be able to do if, for example, I was really sick & couldn't do much. I rented a movie* via my digital cable box. I rarely rent movies, but this is definitely the way to do it - I don't mind going out to get the movie, but I hate going out to return it.

The second new thing is something I saw on Krstlchik's blog about a month ago - I made cake pops. Well, technically I did not make pops - I made cake balls. (I decided I didn't care enough to buy the popsicle sticks.)

The first step is destroying the cake. My sister was traumatized by me picking up the cake and tearing it apart.

Next you add the icing, then you make balls.

After that, it's time to put them in the freezer & wait for them to solidify a bit. (This probably wasn't as necessary a step as it would be if you put the popsicle sticks into the ball.)

After they are out of the freezer, you then dip them in chocolate. (My sister did a lot of the work for this part.)

I then decorated them, and they were done.

They took a lot of chocolate, so we had to eat some plain. (It was not really a sacrifice.)








* Elf. It was funny, and better than I expected

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feeling elite

Going to Africa twice in one year gets you a lot of frequent flier miles. In fact, I have enough miles to have elite status next year. As a result, today I chose rewards based on the number of frequent flier miles I have. I chose the upgrades & companion lounge access. Now I just need to go somewhere on a star alliance carrier next year.

In completely unrelated news, the gym I went to today recently got a massage chair. It is extremely enjoyable (although I am not sure why it is necessary in a gym).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nice & warm

Today I took a shower while fully clothed. (A few other thing-a-dayers have done something similar, so this is anotyher stolen idea.)

It was interesting - I was in my boxing clothes. It was actually quite nice - the clothes collected the water and kept me nice and toasty warm.

The hardest part was carrying the wet clothes downstairs to the laundry room. My arms were tired from boxing, and the clothes were heavy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tied up in knots

Today I learned different ways to tie a tie. I tried the windsor, the half windsor, the pratt, and the four in hand. The hardest one was the half windsor. (Not coincidentally, that's the one I didn't take a picture of.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Credit

Today I requested a copy of my credit report. I actually requested it from 2 different agencies - equifax and transunion.

I could have gotten it online, but that costs money, so instead I went for the free option and mailed it in. I should get it in a week or two.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wrapping it up

No, this isn't another pre-Christmas post. Instead, today I wore hand wraps to body combat. It was weird - I wore my old boxing hand wraps. They are shorter and thicker than my new ones. (My new ones are stretchy, and very compact). At the beginning of the class, I was constantly distracted by the feel of the wraps. However, I adjusted and the class went well.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Eeek!


Today I made Christmas spiders. They are very cute.

It is hard to tell from the pictures, but the legs are a combination of long beads and seed beads. The body is one large bead, and the head is a medium size bead.

I do not plan to quit my day job - I ended up needing 10 leg pieces (instead of 8) and three body wires (instead of 2) for the 2 spiders.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas


I put the Christmas tree up last week. The Christmas music has been in my car all week. I spent yesterday afternoon wanting to leave work for no particular reason.

Today I made spiced nuts. They were easy to make and quite tasty.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Today I made a list of things that you may not know about me.


  1. I have 4 younger sisters.
  2. two of my sisters have started thing-a-day blogs since I started. (Both are more about things they like/appreciate than things they are doing.)
  3. I moved to Ottawa after university because this is where I got a job.
  4. I went to an all-girls high school for grades 9 & 12.
  5. I've travelled to England, Ireland, the U.S., Germany, South Africa, Botswana, Italy, Tunisia, Malta, and Spain on my current passport, some of them more than once. On my previous passport, I only went on one trip - to England and France.
  6. I like baking but hate cooking. Unfortunately, cooking is a more important life skill.
  7. When I was 25, I received my Duke of Edinburgh Award from Prince Edward.
  8. I'm currently into boxing. Other classes I have previously taken as an adult include pottery, Irish dancing, belly dancing, Italian for travellers, home maintenance and repair, ballroom dancing, yoga, and cross country skiing. There are probably more.
  9. When I was 12, I broke my arm by falling off a horse (and landing on a fence). My arm was not visibly broken, and my aunt was more concerned about the fact that my ear was bleeding. (The ear never hurt, probably because my arm hurt too much.)
  10. Both my elementary school and my high school closed the year I graduated.
  11. I've done several backpacking trips and several canoe trips. Canoe trips are more enjoyable.
  12. If you give me 10 things to do, I will get 9 done. If you give me one thing to do, it will never get done.
  13. The summer before my grandmother died, I spent a couple of weeks helping her paint and shampoo the rugs. I had trouble keeping up. (She was 75, I was 22.)
  14. I'm most productive in the afternoon.
  15. Every couple of months, I have lunch with some co-workers I last worked with in 2004.
  16. I'm currently a leader with Sparks (5-6 year olds). In the past, I have been a leader for Guides (9-12 year olds) and Pathfinders (12-15 year olds).
  17. I have 2 friends in Ottawa who were part of the same high school graduating class as me. The high school we graduated from was in Regina, Saskatchewan.
  18. I'm an introvert, and I try not to make plans for Sundays so that I have the day to relax and recharge.
  19. I've always been away from home for Christmas.
  20. I've seen a dog climb a tree (and not a small dog). When I was a kid, my cousin climbed up a tree and my grandparent's dog climbed up after her.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Blurry

It's Thursday, and I went to body flow after work. That gave me the opportunity to do an exercise class without wearing my glasses. It was fine - I'm not blind enough for it to be a big issue, but I do tend to get a headache when I don't wear my glasses.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This is when you should roll your eyes

This is going to be a political rant, so feel free to look away now. As in previous rants, I'm not going to fact check - that ruins a good rant - so what you're getting is my perception of what is going on.

The democratically elected head of Canada is the Prime Minister. The official head of state of Canada is the Queen's representative, the Governor General. She (officially) appoints the Prime Minister and, alternatively, dissolves parliament, which triggers an election. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the party who received the most seats in the last election. Right now, that is Stephen Harper, who is the leader of the Conservative party.

Since there are many political parties (and it is possible to run as an independant), it is possible that there are more members of parliament in the official opposition and the other opposition parties than there are in the governing party. That's where we are right now - the Conservatives are a minority government.

This is important, because in Canada it is rare for an MP to vote against his or her party's official stand.

In a minority government, if the government loses a vote on an issue considered to be a confidence issue, they can no longer govern. (Budgets are always confidence votes.)

Canada's last federal election was October 14. That was just over 6 weeks ago. Harper was the leader of a minority government before the election, and after the election became the leader of a stronger (but still minority) government.

The other players:
Stephane Dion - leader of the liberal party (i.e. the official opposition) - he was the leader when they lost a lot of seats in the last election, and is has resigned as leader effective some time next year

Gilles Duceppe - leader of the Bloc Quebecois, which is a political party in Quebec dedicated to getting Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada

Jack Layton - leader of the New Democratic party

The political parties get funding based on the percentage of the popular vote they got in the last election.

Basically, here's what happened.

Harper saw an opportunity, and in the name of saving money, proposed to cut the funding to political parties. This would be devastating to the other parties - in particular the liberals.

The other leaders got upset, and started talking about causing Harper to lose a confidence vote. They then plan to go to the Governor General and ask her to let them rule in a coalition.

Did I mention that it has been 6 weeks since the last election?

And that her choices (after the confidence vote) would be to either let them rule in a coalition or call another election?

Sigh.

Anyway, this is a long and rambling way of saying that today I watched the Prime Minister make a televised speech instead of watching the Simpsons.

The political stuff was probably funnier, because:
- Harper's speech was shorter than expected (and didn't contain the concessions some were expecting),
- The network was waiting for a tape from Dion (which never arrived),
- Layton wanted to make a speech, and was complaining that he didn't get the same amount of air time as Harper and Dion

So to sum up:
- the new government is in trouble (and the Conservatives are running around in a panic),
- the leader of the coalition couldn't get his act together enough to provide the networks with a video tape for a national broadcast,
- the coalition contains a political party who's reason for existing is to break up the country, and
- the members of the coalition are already bickering

I think we should send them all to their rooms until they can come out and play nice.

Seriously, this is pathetic.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More about pierogies

You may recall that I bought pierogies on Saturday. Today I finally tried the meat pierogies. They were good. Whoever made them used a nice blend of spices. (I think I still prefer cheese pierogies.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cleaning up


Today I "borrowed" an idea from someone - I think it was Kathy - and microwaved a bar of soap. I used an old bar of soap that was almost gone, but hard to use due to a non-soap layer on part of the bar.
It started foaming up, but stopped when I opened a door to take a picture. (The soap was black with yellow and green, so it did not change colour.)
The kitchen still smells like the soap.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dinosaurs and ... ducks?

Today I went to a Christmas pot-luck in November. (It is possible I have been to a Christmas party in November before, but I certainly do not remember doing so.)

While I was there, I played dinosaurs and ducks. It is a very odd game that I believe was made up by the 3-year-old and the 4-year-old I was playing with. It`s pretty simple - they were dinosaurs and I was a duck, so I had to run away. Then I was a dinosaur and they were ducks and they had to run away.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Deli-cious

Today was a very busy day. I had a million errands to do, plus it is my sister's birthday, so there was cake to eat.

One of my errands was to visit the Warsaw Polish Deli. I bought pierogies. This included some meat pierogies, which I have never had before. I haven't tried them yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

They also had strawberry pierogies, which sounded interesting. I may have to try them in the future.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rorschach

Today is definitely a "stand on the toilet and yodel" day. Anyway, when I finally got home, I decided to learn about Rorschach inkblot tests. I read the wikipedia entry, and then I clicked to a couple of web sites that had some of the inkblots.

I hadn't realized that some of them were in colour before. It was interesting, but I can see why there is doubt about how the results are interpreted.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Persimmon


Over the last 11 months, I've become the kind of person who sees something in the grocery store and thinks "I have no idea what that is. I should buy it.". It's kind of odd.

Last weekend I bought a persimmon. It prompted a discussion with the clerk, who also had no idea what it was. It has been sitting on my counter all week.

Today I ate a persimmon. It was good - pretty mild tasting, with a melon-like texture.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vegan






Today I pretended I was vegan. The hardest part was when I got home from the gym and had to wait until the food was cooked before I could eat - I couldn't just thoughtlessly grab a snack. It requires far more thought than I'm willing to put into everyday life. (A lot of things have milk products in them - I usually eat a granola bar on the way to the gym, but today I had to substitute almonds instead.)

(The food is oatmeal, homemade vegetable soup, and vegetarian chilli.)


Today I also broke my cable box. Luckily, I was able to fix* it.
* I unplugged it for an hour. Worked like magic.







Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chatting

A long time ago (January? I'm too lazy to look it up.) I had a chat session over skype. Today for the first time I had a phone call over skype. It was more complicated than necessary since I don't have a headset. I had to borrow one from my colleague. However, in the end it worked out remarkably well considering that I was talking to a colleague in Botswana, and the internet there is usually quite slow.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Flat

Today I downloaded and used Google Earth. It was interesting - especially seeing the globe turn as it moved from one location to another - but there was not enough detail for the locations I looked at to make it really interesting.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Scrubbing

A couple of weeks ago I was in a kitchen store. I saw a scrubber that could be used on vegetables or pots. I decided to get one and try it on vegetables. Today I used the scrubber on vegetables. It did not work terribly well - it was not stiff enough. I might have to move it back to pot-scrubbing status

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Strike!

Today I went 10-pin bowling. It took a while to adjust to - if you can make out my scores in the picture to the left (middle row), you can see that I got a total of 3 points for the first 4 frames ... and then a strike in the final frame. It helped once I realized that the 8-pound ball worked best for me. (I did better in the second game - 3 strikes - but that picture is too blurry to be useful.)

Anyway, it was a good time, and I would definitely be open to doing it again someday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Not the brightest day

If you look through my twitter updates, you will have some idea of the kind of day I've had.

I started by going to the gym. After that, the plan was to replace my burnt out headlight, then head to Montreal.

I went to the new Canadian Tire on Carling to buy the bulb. This is an odd building - the store is actually on the second floor. Most of the first level is parking. Anyway, the bulb was purchased and I got it replaced. After I had struggled through replacing it, I realized that the reason the headlight was out was that the connector for the bulb had obviously melted and the wires were exposed. That meant I had to find a place that could replace the connector without taking all day - so the Montreal trip was off.

Luckily, the headlight was fixed by 1, so it was off to Montreal.

Traffic in Montreal was crazier than usual (due to construction and accidents), so we ended up downtown around 4. By this time I was getting tired. (It has been a busy couple of weeks.)

This lead to a parking issue. Basically, through my own fault, my parking ticket got cancelled soon after I arrived. This meant that I could not pay for parking when I left, so I got the manager to let me out without paying. They have my phone number, so we will have to see if they call to eventually get their payment.

Anyway, we were there for about 3 hours. It was a good trip, but it would have been better if I was not so tired. (I had lots of energy when we left, but that died down too quickly.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In the dark

I just got home from work. (It is 11:44 p.m.). It was a long and frustrating day. Of course, I had to do something new.

I tried (during some down time) to fill an online shopping cart with $100,000 worth of stuff. However, I failed - I only made it to $88,000 before I had to go back to work. It was hard - I had furniture, appliances, power tools, bedding, towels, jewellery.

Luckily (?) on the way home I got stopped by the police. Shockingly, it was not for speeding - I had a headlight out. I just got a warning - but now I have to get my headlight replaced.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I do not recommend eating off the floor

Today I scrubbed the bathroom floor with a toothbrush. I stole the idea from someone (Sydney, I think). I was going to take a picture, but sadly my camera batteries are dead.

I thought the hardest thing about doing this would be that my bathroom floor is considerably larger than a toothbrush. That was not the case. (Well, the floor is larger than the toothbrush, but that wasn't the hardest part.) The hardest part was that the toothbrush bristles were too soft - which is good on your gums, but bad on a floor.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And the winner is ...


Today I played myself in Scrabble. The me on the right won with 234 points. The me on the left was a close runner up with 231 points.

It was hard - I am pretty sure one of the mes went twice in a row a couple of times. Also, since my inclination is to make words around 4 letters long, it got difficult to place letters near the end.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I can see your ... hand

Today I tried reading palms. First I read my palm, then I dragged my sister over & read her palm. Interestingly, neither of us has a noticable fate line.

It seems like an easy thing to do, but it's actually quite difficult. How do I know whether a line is unusually wavy?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Campfire


A few weeks ago my sister was talking about how she didn't go camping this year, and she missed having bannock over the fire. We talked about a couple of options for having a fire, until eventually I realized that I have a wood fireplace.

Today I cooked food in my fireplace.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Another busy day

Today was busy. I had a training for Sparks in the morning, then worked for a couple of hours in the afternoon. However, I did find time to go for dinner at Rockwells. This is another one of those restaurants that is really close to where I live, but yet I had never actually been there.

It is not a fancy place, but the food was good.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sleepy

Today was a brutal day at work. I got in early (around 8:15 a.m.) and I left at 9:30 p.m.

Luckily, there was a break in the middle of the day because I went and got a haircut in the middle of the day. Technically, it was my lunch time, and it worked out well because things didn't get really crazy until 3:30 or so.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A lot of typing

Tonight I will be live blogging The Office. Technically, it played an hour ago, but I am watching it for the first time now.

Here we go.
'
We start with Michael talking about customs in different countries. Somehow, he thinks that washing your hands after going to the bathroom is polite ... in Italy. Remind me not to shake hands with him.

Oh dear. Now he is covering Meredith's face with a jacket. Oh dear.

After the opening, we see Jim starting his day. Apparently it is 6.5 days until ... something - oh, Pam is coming back. And apparently everyone is acting weird about it.

David Wallace is sending Micahel to Winnipeg as a reward ... and because no one else wants to go.

Michael is bringing 3 suitcases - 2 are empty for souvenirs. Apparently Andy is going as well. And Oscar. And Dwight is being, um, helpful. Michael is in business class, and the other two are not.

Michael insults Oscar's egg salad sandwiches, and then finds out there are no meals on the plane.
He then demonstrates how to use a blindfold - slash - facemask - and promptly gets hit by the drink cart.

Back in the office, Ryan is checking out his desk when Pam gets back, which is beside Kelly. Kelly talking heads about how she is over Ryan, and in the next shot they are mauling each other on the desk.

Back in Winnipeg, Michael, Andy, and Oscar are at the hotel. Andy goes over to the conceirge, who gives them directions to a sushi place. Michael is thrilled with her recommendations - possibly because he clearly has no idea what he is - he's confusing it with a geisha.

In New York, Pam has talked to her advisor, and she is failing a class. She has to stay to re-take the class - which will take 12 weeks. I thought her whole course was 12 weeks? Anyway, she and Jim are clearly both upset about it.

In Winnipeg, Michael, Andy, and Oscar are going into a restaurant - conveniently the one the conceirge is at. Michael goes up and re-introduces himself. He starts talking oddly, because she‘s “foreign“.

Andy starts checking out guys for Oscar. It‘s very creepy. But it‘s Andy, so what do you expect?

Michael continues interupting concierge Marie‘s evening, asking her test questions about where to get drycleaning done Christmas eve at midnight.

Oscar then asks Andy how anyone could be with Angela. Andy talks about how wonderful Angela is. Andy admits that he hasn‘t had sex with Angela.

Meanwhile, Michael goes home with Marie.

Oscar then convinces Andy to call Angela to find out what‘s wrong with her, but Dwight is there with Angela. Luckily? Andy is too drunk to catch on.

Michael gets kicked out of Marie‘s room. We don‘t know exactly why - but it‘s Michael, so really no additional information is required.

Back in the office, everyone knows that Pam failed art school. Dwight isn‘t surprised, and starts criticizing Pam‘s painting of the building.

Andy and Oscar are chatting. Oscar can‘t believe that they called Angela last night. Andy didn‘t realize that it was real - he thought it was a dream.

Ryan is trying to convince Kelly to break up with Darryl.

I have no idea why she wants to get back together with him. Anyway, Darryl says it‘s cool. Ryan is puzzled as to why Darryl isn‘t upset.

At Michael‘s business meeting, the client has talked to a competitor who can offer them a better price. Michael starts selling based on service.

Andy is back to first base with Angela - which means he can kiss her forehead. There‘s an Air Canada plane in the background, which is a nice touch.

David calls to congratulate Michael on making the sale. Michael is really depressed, and says the trip sucked. He starts asking why David sent Holly away - and then he hangs up before getting the answer. He then starts wondering why he has stayed at Dunder Mifflin so long (and he uses the phrase “you tell him off to his face over the phone“.

Pam is back. She doesn‘t like graphic design, and she isn‘t coming back because of Jim (except, of course, she kind of is). Dwight arrives, and asks here to make 5 copies of something. Pam points out that she isn‘t going inside, so Dwight agrees he can wait until morning.

And the tag: Ryan and Kelly are back together.

In summary: Michael is still Michael. Ryan and Kelly are annoying. And Jim and Pam are still sweet. So nothing is new.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's time to start the music, it's time to light the lights.


Today I made a muppet version of myself. What can I say, it was a long and annoying day. (Also, I stole this idea from someone, but I don't remember who. I might look it up tomorrow.)

In other news, I got a call from a very nice woman at Bell today. She wasn't able to help me, but she got someone else (who, in theory, could) to call me. He tried 3 times today. (She was clever enough to call the cell phone number that I had the issue with. He was not.) However, he didn't actually help me in any way.

Now for a dilemma - do I leave it alone, or just change my home phone to Rogers? I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Annoyances

Every once in a while (OK, quite often) when I'm bored at work I'll read http://www.consumerist.com/. It is a consumer site, and provides lots of information about how to get issues with companies resolved.

I've mentioned before that I got a new cell phone in September. Unfortunately, I've been having billing issues with it that I've been working to get resolved for the last few weeks. That hasn't helped, so today I followed some tips from the Consumerist and sent an e-mail to an executive asking them to help me get my issue resolved. Hopefully this will help.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Furniture

I bought some furniture when I moved in to the house. Ever since then, I get invitations to special events at the furniture store. Tonight I went to a special event at the store. It wasn't actually very interesting - there wasn't much staff, and there was nothing much going on. I did get to look at tables as part of my ongoing quest to replace my table & chairs.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Picture frames


Today I made quilted picture frames. I used a wood base with a quilted placemat from the dollar store to cover it. Ribbons are used to hold the pictures. Staples hold the whole thing together.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Groceries

Today I was out doing the normal Saturday errands, and I stopped at Food Basics to buy groceries. It is a discount grocery store.

I was impressed with the produce selection in particular. However, the dairy section was not so impressive. The milk expired on November 11, which meant I had to stop at another grocery store. That means that despite the fact that prices are a bit lower, I ended up spending more in total.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bad timing

Today I went to my 6 p.m. class at the gym ... and it had been moved to 6:30. As a result, I waited at the gym for a re-scheduled class, and used a mystery machine while I waited. It was quite odd, actually ... not quite an elliptical trainer, but kind of the same idea. It was possibly something like this.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More toothbrush tricks


Today I used a battery-operated toothbrush.
It was an odd experience - more because of the sound than the actual feeling. Usually brushing my teeth is quite quiet.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Undoing evolution

I did a body pump (weight lifting) class tonight. I've been doing this class for a year and a half, but lately I've been finding the chest presses harder, because when my hands are at the top, I'm doing something weird (possibly twisting them) which means that the piece of my hand between my thumb and my first finger gets tired.

Anyway, at my instructors suggestion, today I did chest presses with my thumb going the same way as my fingers over the bar.

So basically, I was lying on my back holding a bar with 10 kilograms of weight just using my fingers (and no opposable thumb). Luckily, it did not end in tragedy, although I'm not sure if I'll continue doing this -it made it harder to keep my wrists straight.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And ... that's what I did for the rest of the day

Today I added (and played) hangman on igoogle. It is very addictive. I was surprised that the longer words were easier, but it actually makes sense (because you have a better chance of guessing correctly, so you have fewer letters to waste).

I also whined about the time change, but that's not new. I find it easier to adjust to 5 or 6 hours than to one hour. Maybe I should spend the next time change in Europe.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Joining the cult

Today I stole an idea from Kathy and signed up for NaBloPoMo. It basically involves posting one blog entry per day for the month of November. That's something I'm already planning to do, so why not?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More about bread

I've had a bread machine for a couple of years. I enjoy it, and often use it on the timer so that I wake up to fresh bread.

Today, however, I did not plan ahead, so I made bread on the rapid bake setting. I actually hadn't realized you could do that with normal yeast -I thought the fast rise yeast was required.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Manoucher bread

This is turning into a lazy weekend. I usually try to do things that involve leaving the house on the weekend, but the last few weeks that hasn't happened.

That means I have to find new things I can do while still being lazy. Today I tried manoucher bread. It is a Persian flatbread. It came in a large rectangle - the long side was wider than the grocery card. It was good, and did not last long. (Probably healthier than the massive amount of Halloween candy I also ate today.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chinese food

I rarely order Chinese food delivered. In fact, today would be the second time in my life. Anyway, today I ordered food from the Country Place Chinese restaurant. It is a bit of an odd name, but the food was decent.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hmm

Today I got a prize for going to the gym. My gym has been having a promotion. You get initials each time you do a class. Originally, the deal was that if you got one card full of initials, you got a tag for your gym bag. If you got a second card full, you got a water bottle.

That has changed. Now it appears you get entered to win 1 of 4 water bottles if you fill out a card. That is far less motivating.

I do not know why I even want the water bottle - I never bring one to class, and I have plenty of them already.

Anyway, today I finally filled a card and I got my first prize. It was pretty useless - it is a red zippered pouch with a clip on it. But I got it, and that was new.

Now it is off to my first boxing class since June.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Snow day?

It doesn't usually snow in Ottawa until after Halloween. However, it snowed last night.

It was typical for the first snow - accidents were more common than usual, and a lot of my colleagues worked from home.

I went in to work and went out for lunch with some of my co-workers from a few years ago. (Well, those who weren't "too busy".) Anyway, we went to Graffiti's. I had one of the lunch combos - a salad, sandwich, and dessert for $12. It was worth braving the snow for.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fail!

Today I went to http://failblog.org/. Some of the failures were funny, but it's not really my thing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Last week was a struggle

Last week it was hard to do a new thing every day.

In contrast, today a bunch of new things happened without any effort on my part.

1) I filled out a problem report at work,
2) There was no one at the desk when I got to the gym, so I went in without showing anyone my card,
3) I logged into the Girl Guides web site as a leader (yay!), and
4) I lost my cell phone.

The best news of the day is that I found my cell phone. (It was in my apron pocket from the cupcake extravaganza yesterday).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween


I'm sure you've all heard that the original jack-o-lanterns were not made of pumpkins. (I'm too lazy to look up a citation for that, so just go with it).


Anyway, today I carved faces into things that were not pumpkins. Specifically, a potato and an apple. To my surprise, the potato worked better than the apple - the apple fractured during the coring process and I was forced to eat part of it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Shuffling along

Today I learned how to rifle shuffle a deck of cards. Enjoy the (inexpert) video.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sometimes it doesn't work out


Today I attempted to make a Toothbrush Bracelet. It did not work out - basically, I was unable to get it warm enough to bend. Oh well, that's how it goes sometimes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Coffee

Today I met a friend for coffee at Timothy's. I don't actually drink coffee, so this is not a place I've been before. I had apricot green tea. It was enjoyable - it smelled really nice and tasted ... well, like tea.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Boo!


I used to be really into Halloween. I have a bunch of costumes from previous years, and I also have black nail polish, so today I painted my toes black & orange to celebrate Halloween.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do not call

Canada recently got a Do Not Call list implimented. Today I registered my phone number with the registry. I must admit that I question its effectiveness.

First of all, you register by typing in your phone number and then typing in a confirmation code. I assume deregistering is a similar process, so what's to stop someone else from deregistering you?

Also, there are exemptions - charities, polling organizations, and businesses with which you have an established business relationship can still call you. That's ... almost everyone. I don't get it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It all started with a big bang

I went to the gym after work as usual. Today was the new release for Body Combat. It was really fun. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks. This has nothing to do with my new thing, I just enjoyed it.

Anyway, I got home in plenty of time for Monday night TV, including the Big Bang Theory. I love the theme song for that show, and I'm always trying to figure out the words. My sister mentioned that the words were on the IMDB, so I read (and attempted to sing) all of the verses to the Big Bang Theory theme song.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Belly Dance

I've mentioned before that my sister is into flamenco dancing. She is also really into belly dancing, and today I accompanied her to a bazaar of belly dance supplies. I didn't buy anything, but the variety of costumes & accessories was amazing. (She bought a hip scarf and a CD.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Around town


There are lots of local farmer's markets. It's getting late in the season, but many of them are still open. Today I went to the Parkdale market. I bought carrots, potatos, and celery. I haven't tried them yet, but they all look good.


After that, I went out for lunch at PJ Quigleys. It's one of the closest restaurants to my house, and yet I hadn't made it there (until today) in the 8 years I've lived here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Travel style

Today I took a quiz about my travel style . It was put on by a Canadian tourism organization. I would not say the results were 100% applicable, but some of their suggested destinations were ones I had been considering for my vacation this year.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Zumba!

Today was the day for another new class at the gym. I went to Zumba. It is a latin dance based cardio class. It was fun. I enjoyed it more than Body Jam last week.

Unfortunately, there are few Zumba classes offered, so I don't think I'll be able to work it into my schedule on a regular basis.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Milk mustache

Chocolate milk is a good food to have after working out - something about the combination of carbs & protein is good for muscle recovery.

Yesterday I drank the last of the milk. Instead of buying more, I was lazy and made chocolate milk out of powdered milk, water, and chocolate syrup.

Next time I'll just buy more milk. I do go to the gym in a grocery store. Like I said, lazy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Voting

Today is a federal election in Canada. I'm familiar with the voting process & the political parties, but today I learned more about the history of elections in Canada. I knew that voting was not always secret, but I did not know that women were able to vote before 1849. It is possible that I was supposed to know that after my Canadian History class in university, but unfortunately my brain does not remember history very effectively.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Leftovers


After Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, I had some whipped cream left, so today I made creampuffs. I quite enjoyed them. I might have to do it again someday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ole!

My sister has been taking flamenco dance classes for a couple of years. Today I joined her in going to a flamenco show. There were 2 dancers, 2 singers, and a guitar player (all from Spain, I believe).

They did 6 songs over 2 hours. Both dancers dance to the first and last song. The male dancer did 2 solo songs, and the female dancer did 2 solo songs.

It was OK. My sister really liked it, but it was not my favourite thing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cornucopia






I was in Westboro (which is an area in Ottawa) today. Back in May I happened to be in that area during Westfest. Today I happened to be in the area during Cornucopia. There were lots of people in costumes walking around. Stilts were popular.
Also, I finally figured out how to get pictures from my cell phone to my computer. Yay!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Feel free to skip this one

This is going to be long, so feel free to skip the whole essay. Anyway, today I composed a financial tirade.

Here we go.

I'll start by saying that this is my understanding of the situation. This is not what I do for a living, so if I'm wrong feel free to point it out.

What happened in the US?
======================
We all know what a mortgage is - the bank lends a person/ business money to pay for real estate. The person borrowing the money pays it back according to the terms of the agreement. You can have a fixed rate mortgage for a period of time (say 5 years). The mortgage is typically amortized over a longer period of time (25 years), which means you would need several 5 year mortgages before the mortgage is paid off. You can also have a variable rate mortgage (where the mortgage rate fluctuates with interest rates.

In the US, banks started lending money for mortgages where the initial rate was low, but it skyrocketed to a high rate after a period of time. They were sold to consumers who were told that they could re-finance when the low rate expired. The "plan" was that when they re-financed, the price of the house would have gone up.

Housing prices started going down.

Let's say that you bought a house for $250,000 and put $10,000 down. You have a mortgage for $240,000.

Now let's say that house prices in your area dropped 10%. Your house is now worth $225,000. Since in the first years of a mortgage you pay mostly interest, you might have paid off $1000 of your mortgage.

So your house is worth $225,000, and you owe $239,000.

No bank is going to let you re-finance for $239,000, since that is more than your house is worth. That means you're stuck with your higher interest rate for your first mortgage.

A lot of people couldn't afford the higher interest rate (especially since fuel, and thus a lot of essential items like food, was going up at the same time), so the bank ended up foreclosing.

It gets worse.

Banks started to realize that loaning money that wasn't paid back was not, in fact, good business. As a result, they went the other way - they slashed credit card limits, and it was much harder to get a mortgage or other credit. This applied to both individuals and businesses.

A lot of people directly involved with mortgages & other financial services started to lose their jobs. Banks with more bad debt than they could handle started to go under.

Some unrelated businesses that needed short-term loans (for example, a store that has to pay for supplies a month before getting the money in for sales) were no longer able to get those loans. As a result, they started to close.

The situation gets worse when you consider how much of the world's economy is tied to the US economy (and how many other banks, etc. had invested in the sub-prime mortgages).

Obviously, the people losing their houses made bad financial decisions (committing to a contract based on the assumption that things will only get better). However, the banks bear a lot more responsibility for the situation - they took advantage of people's poor financial management, and, in some cases, lied on loan applications so that people would get approved for more money than they should have received.


What can I do to minimize the impact on me?
====================================
There are good financial decisions that everyone should be making regardless of the economy.

1) Set up a plan to have money taken automatically from your bank account every month & put into a savings vehicle. You want to have some money set aside in something that gives you interest, but that you can use in case of emergencies. Set a minimum amount you want to have set aside for unexpected financial hits (like job loss, medical/dental bills, an unexpected major repair, etc). Once you are over that minimum, you can use the excess money for major purchases if necessary. Obviously, everyone has different levels of what they can afford to put aside every month, but the key is that you want to contribute regularly and you want the money to be available, but harder than normal to get at. (Perhaps that means you don't put it the account on your bank card, perhaps it means it's in a mutual fund where it takes a couple of days to get at.)

2) Understand the difference between needs and wants. You need medical & dental care. You do not need new clothes (assuming that you haven't had a fire or something - in that case new clothes would be a need). Cable, cell phones, restaurant meals, a gym membership are all wants. A vehicle (& its related costs) is a want if you live somewhere where you can get to work without it.

3) Do not carry a balance on a credit card unless it's for a short-term need. (If it's a long term need, you need to figure out how to pay it off regularly). A lot of people don't seem to know this, but when you put something on a credit card, you have around a month to pay it off without owing interest. If you don't pay it off, every purchase you make from then on (until your entire balance is paid off) will cost you interest immediately. So let's say you buy something for $200 on September 10. The bill is printed September 15, & the payment is due October 4. On September 18, you put another $200 on your card. If you don't pay off the first $200 by October 4, you will owe interest on all $400 (even though you haven't got the bill for the Sept. 18 purchase yet). And credit card interest rates are high. You don't want to get into that hole.

4) Look at where you're spending your money and figure out if you're spending your money to match your priorities. Wants don't go on the credit card unless you can pay them off. But let's say you can afford them - do you want to afford them, and do you want the level of service you're paying for? Do you need voicemail on your cell phone? Do you eat out several times a week, and, if so, what will you save by cutting that level in half? Do you watch a significant number of the channels you get?

5) Contribute to your retirement fund. In Canada, you don't pay taxes on the interest generated within your RRSP, and you get a tax deduction. No point in passing that up (unless you are contributing money that would otherwise be used to pay off high interest credit card debt).

Make sure you balance your investments - generally the closer you are to retirement, the less money you should have in stock-based funds - and diversify so that one company going under doesn't destroy your investments. If you're years away from retirement and you have a retirement plan, you probably lost a lot of money (on paper) in the last month or so. It's hard to contribute more money when you've just lost a lot as the markets fall, but that's where dollar cost averaging comes in.

Here's how it works.
Let's say you invest $100/month in a plan.
Month 1, plan shares are currently $100, so you get one share.
Month 2, shares are $50, so you get 2 shares.

What is the average cost of your shares in this plan? No, it's not $75 - it's actually $67 (i.e. $200/3 shares). Basically, as the price goes down, you will get more shares - which means that when prices eventually get better, you will be better off.

6) Mortgages. If you want to buy a house, that's great - but make sure you understand all of the real costs involved. If you buy a house, you will owe money on your mortgage, you will owe money for property taxes, and you are responsible for maintenance & repairs. You don't want to be in the position of owing more money than your house is worth. That means you need a down payment. If the rules haven't changed, in Canada you need a 25% down payment to avoid having to pay for CMHC insurance. (I think if you put down 10% you need less insurance than if your deposit is < 10%.)

Anyway, once you have determined you want to buy a house & you've figured out what your down payment will be, go to the bank and get pre-approved. The bank will tell you how much they'll lend you. You do not want to borrow as much as they'll give you.

Instead, figure out what you can afford in payments each month (or, ideally, every 2 weeks). Then figure out how much you can borrow to get your payments at that amount - and then borrow less than that.

Remember how I said that the first few years of a mortgage you're paying mostly interest? Let's say you can afford $500/month. If you borrow an amount that puts your payments at $500/month, you will be paying off mostly interest. However, if you borrow an amount that puts your payments at $400/month and then increase your payments to $500/month, you will be putting an extra $100/month directly on the principle. That may not sound like much, but that's money that you won't be paying interest on for 20 years. An added bonus is that if your circumstances change (due to job loss, for example), you can drop your payments back down to $400 without re-financing.

7) Pay for maintenance. Very few things get better on their own, and failing to paint the siding or fix that noise the car is making can end up costing you far more in the long run.

8) Learn to say no to things that are not important to you. (Actually, this is a good idea in general, not just financially.) Decide what charities and organizations you want to support, and say no to requests from other ones. If you can't afford to go out to eat/go to a movie/go on a trip, don't go. There are lots of ways to socialize with people without spending a lot of money - suggest something else. Keep in mind that if you decide not to do something, all you have to say is "no". You don't need to explain why.

9) Don't assume anyone else will look after your financial future.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jammin'

My sister joined the same gym as me. She usually goes to the one right by the house, I usually go to the one by my office. Today, however, I joined her for a Body Jam class. Body Jam is is a dance-based cardio class. I'm sure I looked pretty dorky. However, it was fun. I didn't find it to be a really hard workout, but that could be because of the time I spent standing around looking lost.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More reasons to get sucked into Google's web

Today I used Google Documents for the first time. It was really useful - I was able to edit the document at the same time as someone else.

I would definitely recommend it if you are working on a document with someone else.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mmmm, donuts

I had to stop at the bank machine this morning.

While I was there, I bought some Country-Style donuts for the office. I`ve bought donuts for work before, but that was when I worked in a building that had a Tim Hortons.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sauna

Today, I went back to the gym for the first time in 2 weeks. I started with a body pump class (i.e. weights), then did body combat (i.e. martial arts aerobics). My theory was that I'd be less sore if I did another class after the weight lifting class. This may turn out to be false.

Anyway, after that, I took a shower and then spent 5 minutes in the sauna at the gym. It was relaxing.

Expect much whining about being sore tomorrow.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

100 km.

Today I went to a 100 km lunch. Most of the foods in the lunch were produced within 100 km of the lunch location (which was a local church). There were a few exceptions for things such as coffee.

The lunch was enjoyable. I like to eat locally grown foods - they are usually much tastier than anything from farther away.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Not really solving the problem

I've mentioned before that my sister is living with me. She actually lives in the basement (like a troll - hi Wanda!). Anyway, my computer is downstairs, so I mostly use her laptop, which is usually on the kitchen table.

Earlier this week, I stood up from the table and the chair I had been sitting on fell apart.

I've been considering buying new dining room furniture since I moved in, so today I went and looked at furniture at Oxford Furniture. They make solid wood furniture, and I found a table I love. I am attempting to be sensible, so I did not buy it today. Basically, it is a double pedestal table. It opens up, and has 3 extra leaves, which store inside the table.

So basically, I dealt with a lack of chairs by finding a table. (I pretty much settled on chairs as well, but it is the table I really love.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

This is probably my last Sparks-related new thing

I have mentioned before that I am volunteering with Sparks this year. Like all organizations involving children, Girl Guides has a screening process.

Today I was screened to become a Sparks leader. I've been through the screening process before - when I left Guiding I was the one doing the screening, but I hadn't been through the interview, etc. myself because I had joined before that became part of the process.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Empty hangers

Usually I dispose of clothing I no longer need by dropping it off in one of the bins various charities have around the city, or by bringing it to my mom's place & letting my various relatives pick through it (thus making it someone else's problem).

Today I had two full garbage bags of clothes to dispose of, so I dropped them off at a thrift store. Hopefully they will be useful for someone else

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

TV

Today I watched How To Look Good Naked. It was interesting - the woman in the episode I watched did seem to feel a lot better about herself at the end of the episode than she did at the beginning. And the clothes they picked for her really suited her.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sparks, part II

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had decided to become a Sparks leader. Well, today I went to my first Sparks meeting as a leader. I was totally clueless about what we'd be doing, but it went well, and we planned the next 4 meetings afterwards.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Back in Ottawa

I flew back to Ottawa today. I was in the Edmonton area for 2 full days, but didn`t actually make it in to Edmonton. It was a good weekend, though.

Before going through security in the airport, I considered having breakfast at Harvey`s. However, I didn`t want to have to gulp down my drink & I couldn`t take it through security, so I went through without getting any food.

The options on the other side were limited. However, Montana`s was serving breakfast. (Do normal Montana`s locations serve breakfast? Somehow I doubt it.) Anyway, I had breakfast at Montanas. It was good but expensive - but it was an airport, so that is to be expected.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Miscellaneous Alberta things

So I'm still visiting my cousin. It was a lazy day (at my request).

However, we did make our own chips out of tortillas. They were enjoyable.

She also had some yard work to do, and in the process I used an electric lawn mower. (Don`t think I was too helpful, I only mowed a strip at the side of the house & I managed to unplug it twice.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Groceries

Hmm. As I mentioned yesterday, I am in Alberta today. I'm visiting my cousin. It has been a good (but quiet) day. We went in to Fort Saskatchewan (about 20 minutes away) to buy groceries. For the record, the grocery store there had a better selection of produce than the grocery store I normally go to.

I also watched "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" and then watched the TV version.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More travel

Today I did several new things all related to yet another airplane trip.

I went through security in the Regina airport, where I updated my twitter status by cell phone. Then I managed to get temporarily outsmarted by a Pepsi machine. (I eventually got my bottle of Pepsi.) Next, I flew into Edmonton. It is possible that I have changed planes there in the past, but this is the first time Edmonton was my final destination.

Finally, I went to Gibbons, Alberta, which is where I am now.

(Edited to change "few" to "flew". Also, to fix the date.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Have I mentioned I have a cold?

I believe I have whined about having a cold. (Those people who are actually around me can attest that I have been very annoying.) Anyway, I had to pick up my niece at school, but I wanted to take a nap so I set an alarm on my cell phone. I have had a cell phone for many years, but that is something I've never done before.

It went off as planned and I made it to school to pick her up on time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yet another cold

When I got here, my niece had a cold. Last night she started screaming and holding her ear, and thus was diagnosed with an ear infection. She went to the doctor & got liquid antibiotics, which need to be administered through a syringe type thing. (Obviously, there's no needle, they are oral antibiotics). Today I used the syringe to give her the antibiotics.

Of course, I am also getting a cold (again!). Today I am at the sore throat state. When I have a sore throat, I like to have a milkshake. They were out of chocolate at A&W, so today I had a root beer milkshake. It was good, but very sweet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Painting


Today I painted my parents' garage door. Since I'm a full service type of painter, I also painted parts of the driveway, the ladder, and my jeans. Sigh.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back to school

My niece is in pre-kindergarten. It's a program for 3 & 4 year olds. She loves it, and is always excited to go to school.

Today I walked my niece to school. I got to meet her teachers and everything. I suspect I'll have to go pick her up soon as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Turkey


When I cook a chicken, I usually just cook the chicken - I like the meat for sandwiches. Usually if I have people over (which is rare) one of them wants to make the stuffing and I am more than happy to let them. However, my mom was cooking a turkey today so I made the stuffing.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The farm

Today I went (with various family members) to visit my uncle at his farm.

While I was there, I was hanging around with my niece as well as my cousin's kids. One of the things we did was go up in the hayloft where I built a fort out of hay bales. I remember hay bales being really heavy. These ones were lighter than I expected.

I didn't do much playing in the fort myself, but the kids had fun.

Friday, September 19, 2008

And guess what?

I arrived at my parents' place last night. By the time I got to bed, it was close to midnight. At 1 my niece (who had fallen asleep at 4:30) woke up & crawled into bed with me. I had a 50 minute conversation with my niece in the middle of the night. "And guess what? I got bitten by a wasp. And guess what? I have a new bike helmet. It has princesses on it. And guess what? There are lots of girls in my class this year. Their names are ..."

Anyway, eventually she went off to see her mom, and I got to sleep.

I was still tired by lunch when I went for lunch at The Atrium restaurant.

Today was busy, and tomorrow will be too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More travelling

I am officially on vacation. I left from Ottawa at 6:45, and arrived in Regina at around 11 (which, due to the time change, is 6 hours later).

On the way, I walked through the new portion of the Ottawa airport. Somewhere around 2003, Ottawa built a new building to replace the old airport, but it didn't quite work out that way - the old terminal remained in use. This summer they finally replaced the old terminal with a new section of the new terminal. It must have opened recently, since I was in the airport less than 2 months ago & I didn't notice it then.

I also must look suspicious, because about 30% of the time I get an extra security check. Most of the time they do a particulate check on my carry on luggage. This time they did a random pat down. Luckily, I was early so I had lots of time.

My first flight was late, which means that my 30 minutes in Calgary turned into 5 minutes in Calgary. As a result, I got to be one of the first people off the plane (despite sitting in row 15). Then I walked off of one plane and directly on to the next plane. Amazingly, my luggage made it as well. I love WestJet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sparks

I was a Girl Guide leader for many years. (For those in the U.S., it's the rough equivalent of Girl Scouts.) I worked with Guides (9-12 year olds) or Pathfinders (12-15 year olds). Four years ago, I was burned out, so I quit.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into one of the leaders I used to work with. She is now doing Sparks (5 & 6 year olds) and asked if I'd join her. Today I agreed to become a Sparks leader. I followed that up by saying that I would miss the first meeting.

Hopefully it will work out well. One of the advantages of working with the younger girls is that it is much less of a committment - they do not do many camps, and the meetings are just an hour.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A minor (but annoying) new thing

Today's new thing is a continuation of last week. You may recall that I did a class at the gym wearing shoes from two different pairs. Well, today I wore a shirt with a tie at the neck to the gym. I really liked the shirt, but it's now somewhat grungy and only good for the gym, so I wore it today. That sounds really minor, but it's really, really annoying to do an aerobics class with a shirt with dangling ties. They swing around. It's very distracting.

I took a picture of the shirt with my new cell phone camera, but wasn't able to upload it onto the computer. I'll upload it if I figure it out.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Next time I will bring a water bottle

I've mentioned before that I used to go to the gym, go home & eat, then go to boxing.

I'm taking a break from boxing, but today I did two classes at the gym back to back.

The first class was Body Pump (weight lifting), the second was Body Combat (i.e. martial arts aerobics). It was actually quite nice, the first class meant I was nicely warmed up for the second class. And, in the end, I was very relaxed.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Casino night


I mentioned while I was in Botswana that I played the slots for the first time.


Tonight I played blackjack. My sister used to be a blackjack dealer, so she ran a game for us tonight. It was definitely more fun than the slots.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More shopping

The Glebe is an area of Ottawa that contains, among other things, a few blocks of unique shops. There are a few chain stores, but mostly it's more unusual stuff. I thought about taking a day and wandering through the shops, but never have. Today I went shopping in the Glebe. I bought some things that I like but did not technically need. I even got started on my Christmas shopping. (Next anticipated Christmas purchase will be in early December.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fall cleaning

I mentioned a week or so ago that the breaker for the office microwave had tripped and the power was out. This also meant that the light in the bathroom was out. It was annoying, especially since it took a week to locate the breaker that was the problem.

This Wednesday we noticed an odd smell in the fridge in the kitchen. (Can you see where this is going?) The fridge was mostly empty, so the smell was perplexing.

Wednesday afternoon we found the breaker, and realized that it also controlled the plug that the fridge is plugged in to. That's when we opened the freezer. It was not a good situation.

Anyway, the fridge (and freezer) have been empty since Wednesday, but the smell remained, so today I washed out the fridge at work. I then propped open the door for an hour or so. It seems to be doing better. Maybe I will resume putting my lunch in the fridge next week.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My sister tells me this is a pathetic new thing


I got a dozen cobs of corn at the corn roast on Saturday. Today I cooked some of them, and I made a pyramid of corn.


I remarked on how I'd never done that before, and my sister told me that it was a pathetic new thing. As a result, I had to use it as my new thing. (She promises to leave a snarky comment.)
(My actual new thing happened at work. There is a door that divides up the floor I work on. It gets locked separately as the other side of the door is a different zone for the security system. Today I checked the security panel to see if the door was unlocked instead of just unlocking it.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TV to the rescue

I'm too cheap to buy a PVR. Actually, it's not the cost of the PVR, it's the $3/month they charge you just for having a PVR.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I bought a hard drive DVD player. I had played around with it a bit, but hadn't really seriously used it - the TV season is just getting started.

However, today I got home later than usual, which mean that I finished eating later than usual, which means that it was 10 after 8 before I went to watch TV. As a result, today I used my hard drive DVD player to rewind (and watch) a show while it was still taping. It worked really well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Attack!

The gym I go to changes its class schedules a few times a year. A new schedule started yesterday.

I usually go to the Body Combat (martial arts aerobics) and Body Pump (weight training) classes. I have also done Body Flow (yoga) and gliding.

However, with the new schedule both of my combat classes have moved, so I had to find an alternative. Today I did a Body Attack class. It was good - very intense, and it has an entire song you run through.

And, because I'm a fool, I did the entire class while wearing shoes from two different pairs. Luckily I at least grabbed a left shoe and a right shoe this morning, even if they didn't match.