Wednesday, December 31, 2008
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
Monday, December 29, 2008
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
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Both were entertaining (and compact, thus easy to carry).
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
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
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
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
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
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
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
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
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
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
Sunday, December 14, 2008
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
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
Sunday, December 7, 2008
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
Today I made spiced nuts. They were easy to make and quite tasty.
Friday, December 5, 2008
- I have 4 younger sisters.
- 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.)
- I moved to Ottawa after university because this is where I got a job.
- I went to an all-girls high school for grades 9 & 12.
- 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.
- I like baking but hate cooking. Unfortunately, cooking is a more important life skill.
- When I was 25, I received my Duke of Edinburgh Award from Prince Edward.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Both my elementary school and my high school closed the year I graduated.
- I've done several backpacking trips and several canoe trips. Canoe trips are more enjoyable.
- 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.
- 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.)
- I'm most productive in the afternoon.
- Every couple of months, I have lunch with some co-workers I last worked with in 2004.
- 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).
- 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.
- I'm an introvert, and I try not to make plans for Sundays so that I have the day to relax and recharge.
- I've always been away from home for Christmas.
- 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
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
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?
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
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Anyway, it was a good time, and I would definitely be open to doing it again someday.
Friday, November 21, 2008
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
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 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
Monday, November 17, 2008
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
Saturday, November 15, 2008
It is not a fancy place, but the food was good.
Friday, November 14, 2008
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
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
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
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
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
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
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
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
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
Sunday, November 2, 2008
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
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
Thursday, October 30, 2008
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
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
Monday, October 27, 2008
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
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
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
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
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
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
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
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
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
Friday, October 10, 2008
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
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I would definitely recommend it if you are working on a document with someone else.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
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
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
I also watched "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" and then watched the TV version.
Friday, September 26, 2008
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
It went off as planned and I made it to school to pick her up on time.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
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
Monday, September 22, 2008
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
Saturday, September 20, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
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
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
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
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.