Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy (kind of) birthday, B.

Today is kind of my niece's sixth birthday. She's a Feb. 29 baby, so she doesn't really get a birthday this year. Apparently, she had a good day. She called me on skype to show me the play she was putting on with her dolls.

I'm completely out of practice at getting up and going to work every week, and last week left me exhausted. I haven't done much this weekend and I'm still tired.

One thing I did do this weekend was repaint the ceiling in the shower downstairs. You see, Wanda is out of town - she went to see B for her birthday - and the paint on one part of the shower was bubbling and peeling.

Yesterday morning, I sanded down the bubbling paint and re-mudded it. I did a second coat last night.

This morning, I sanded it down again and did the first coat. An hour or so later, I did the second coat. A little later, I did the third coat.

I painted it blue - it had been white before, but I had blue paint left over from the rest of the bathroom, so blue it was.
In the picture above, the flat-ish part is the part that was bubbling.

Other than that, my day was spent watching hockey and playing on the internet.

I have to say that I've watched more of these Olympics than I have of all previous Olympics combined. I've never really gotten into the Olympics before, but this time I've been fascinated by a lot of the events. I still find moguls incredible - how can anyone's knees take that? I'm far more interested in events that involve hurtling down a hill at high speeds than by those that take place indoors.

It will be odd not to have the TV turned to some sort of sporting event this week.

I don't really know how to wrap this up - I'm feeling pretty scattered. I'm going to get to bed earlier tonight in an attempt to start acclimatizing to going to work every day. I hope everyone has a good week.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Random petty thought during BodyPump class

  • The instructor is a woman. Who is that guy coming over the sound system? Oh, the sound system is messed up! It's the spin instructor.
  • Yes, guy in front of me, she means that no one should have a warm-up weight of more than 5 kg. You have 7.5. It does apply to you, too.
  • Hey, where did the person behind me go? Woo hoo, room for lunges!
  • Hee. The guy who had 7.5 kg for his warm-up weight is down to 5 kg for squats. That means his warm-up weight will be his highest weight for the night.
  • Look, the person over there is doing this wrong. So is the person on my other side ... oh, crap, it's me.
  • I can't see my shoes in the mirror. Shouldn't I be able to see my shoes in the mirror?
  • Is that woman ... she's wearing a full-body leotard with a thong over it! What made her think that was a good idea?
  • What am I going to bring for lunch on Friday?
  • I really eat more apples when they're free at work. I also eat more chocolate.
  • Should I stop at Quizno's for supper? I haven't been there in a long time. Oh, crap, I gave up chips for Lent.
  • I'm hungry.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Remembering how to sit still for 8 hours

Let's start with what I did on Saturday (because I took pictures, and they will not be wasted).

You see, a few weeks ago I went to walk out the front door, and the chain at the top looked ... different. I couldn't remember exactly what it had looked like before, but something had changed.

(I admit it, I'm not very observant.)

Eventually I figured out that the springy part of the chain was no longer attached to the door frame.

The spring had actually broken, and I didn't really know how to fix it.

I went to Rona expecting to have to try to explain what I was looking for, but it turns out the replacement chains were easy to find. I removed the old one and replaced it with the new one much more easily than expected (although it probably would have been warmer if I had done it in summer).

Here's how it looks now.

Now, to change the subject completely, today was my first day of work.

When I started my last job, I was in an area with 2 other people. My manager was working from home, so he asked one of my new coworkers to get me started.

The coworker got in at 10. I didn't have a computer, so he gave me a bunch of books to read ... and read ... and read. At lunch time, he got up, asked the other person in the area if she wanted to go for a walk, and the two of them took off while I sat in my cubicle trying to stay awake.

(They continued doing this as long as I worked there, by the way. Sometimes I would barge in on their walk, but sometimes it wasn't worth the effort.)

Today, I arrived on schedule at 9. (I was a little concerned about it at one point because it snowed this morning. We've had relatively little snow this year and the traffic report consisted of "If you can stay home, do so. It's slow everywhere.") I got my badge picture taken, then my manager came to reception to meet me. She took me down to our office area and gave me a bit of a tour.

I didn't have a computer yet, so we walked down to the restaurant in the basement since she wanted to buy breakfast. When we got back, she got one of my new coworkers to walk me through some of the systems.

After a while, we took a break so that I could take care of some paperwork. When I was ready to get going again, I sat with another coworker for a while to start to understand some of what she does.

I was there until lunch, when she and another coworker invited me to go get some lunch with them.

I got my badge and my parking pass. I need to use the badge for the elevator, and that took a while to figure out.

After that, it was more sitting with people, then I got some reading material. Finally, my computer was ready, so I read my e-mail (all 10 or so - the beauty of working for a large company) and started to figure out what software I need to get access to.

All in all, not a bad first day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The end of my week

Well, as I mentioned, yesterday I took my car in.

As I was getting ready to leave, I realized two things:
1) I had a 7-day read out of the library that was due yesterday (that I hadn't read), and
2) My cell phone battery wasn't fully charged.

I dropped the car off and walked over to Tim Hortons. (It was around 8:30 at that point. Not much else was open at that time.)

I got some food and sat at a corner table to read my book. There is officially a 20 minute limit, but no one asked me to leave (and the restaurant was never full), so I sat there and read my book. Around 10:15, they started coming around to clean the tables, so I packed up and walked over to the library.

I spent a few hours at the library - I finished the first book, returned it, and started reading a second book. I also checked my e-mail, and had nothing important.

Around 1, I started getting hungry, so I left the library to get some food. By the time I was done eating, the car was ready. It was quite relaxing, in part because I wasn't worried about job hunting. I had originally planned to do a few other things (i.e. stop at a couple of stores), but in the end I was happy just sitting and relaxing.

I got home before three, in time for the phone call telling me my background check was done.

I accepted the customer service job, and have a start date of Tuesday.

Today I considered going to the gym, but I was still coughing a lot in the morning, so I skipped it. I did make it to boxing and managed to survive despite not having been to the gym in 2 weeks.

I also got my feedback on boxing. Apparently, my speed and power are improving, but are still not as good as they need to be to move to level 4. I was offered the option of doing "level 3.5" - i.e. one class of level 3, one class of level 4. I'm going to stick with level 3, though. I'm not bored with this level yet, and I just don't have time to do two boxing classes a week without letting something else slip.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Well, I finished the last sock monkey a couple of days ago. It's a different colour - blue stripes. They are all ready to go now.

We used the pinata yesterday. It was appropriately hard to break - all the girls got to hit it before it fell apart. In fact, it took a couple of hard blows from a leader to break it. We were out of time, or we would have let the girls take another shot at it.

And ... today the other company I had interviewed with checked my references and asked if I was still interested. It would be more money than the other job, and it would be permanent instead of a contract - but I'm still leaning towards the other one. (I like the people at the other one, and I really am thinking I want to get into a less technical role.) I just wish they'd finish the background check so that I actually would have something concrete. Hopefully that will happen in the next couple of days.

Of course, if it happens tomorrow, I won't know immediately. I'm taking the car in, and I will probably spend time in that area - it's easier than getting a ride home and then figuring out how to get back there. Typically, I go in to ITO and work on my java course, but ... I'm not sure I want to do that tomorrow. (No matter which of these two jobs I finally end up with, java is irrelevant.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Still Feeling Crafty

This week at Sparks we're celebrating birthdays around the world. One of the things we're doing is having a pinata.

Now, we could buy a pinata - that's what we did last year - but I wanted to make one. I figured it might be easier to break (since the bought ones are made of cardboard), and it would certainly be cheaper - if you didn't factor in labour costs.

I started by blowing up a big balloon and a small balloon. I taped half a plastic cup to the small balloon.

I mixed up a cup of flour with 3/4 cup of water and cut strips of newspaper. I soaked the newspaper in the glue mixture, squeezed it between my fingers, and then covered the balloons in the paper.

I let it dry for a day, then added another layer.

Once that was dry, I cut a hole in both pieces, then popped the balloons. I filled the pinata with the treats and taped the two pieces together.

I cut slits in the top and put paper clips in them (so that there is somewhere to attach the rope).

I then added another layer of white paper, paying special attention to the neck and the slits with the paper clips - both of those areas got two layers of paper to glue them together.

When that was dry, I covered it in tissue paper. You can't tell very well from the picture, but it's supposed to be a bird. It's not perfect, but ... it has been specifically created to be hit with sticks, so I'm not going to worry about it. (For future reference, buying a pinata for $10 is totally a bargain - this probably took 3 or 4 hours in total.)

I also made the second of my three sock monkeys. I made the tail on this one half the width (but twice the length) of the other one. Instead of stuffing it with fiber fill, I used a pipe cleaner, so it is somewhat pose-able. Also, note the scary face.

Now, of course, I want to change the tail on the other one.

I've also started watching the Olympics (which I never do). I blame Wanda. I've become unusually interested in the biathalon as well as moguls. Forty eight hours ago, I didn't know what the mogul event was.

Luckily, watching the Olympics goes well with hand-sewing sock monkeys.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Monkeys for the monkeys

I'm still fighting a cold - I'm feeling better today, but I'm still coughing rather a lot. I didn't want to leave the house, but I'm working on a project for my niece's birthday and I needed some fiber fill. I couldn't wait until Monday - it's a holiday here, so I don't want to count on stores being open. (Yes, I could go tomorrow, but will I really be feeling that much better by then?)

Anyway, since I had the fiber fill, I finished my first sock monkey.

I have two more to make for my cousin's daughters (to celebrate the arrival of their new baby brother).

You know, all of these kids can read. One day they'll discover my blog and I'll have to be a lot more careful.

Hopefully today is not that day.

The other thing I did today was make Bocconcini Stuffed Mediterranean Bacon Pull Aparts.

It was good. I poured too much parmesan on top, though - next time I will definitely cut that down. My theory was that bread that contained cheese, onions, sundried tomatoes, and bacon was a full meal, so that's what I had for supper tonight.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A reason to put on pants

Does anyone reading this watch How I Met Your Mother?

There's an episode where one of the characters had been unemployed for a while. He starts not wearing pants around the house. Next thing you know, he doesn't put on pants to go down and pick up the mail. Eventually, he takes a job that's - let's say - off his chosen career path, and he justifies it by saying he needs a reason to put on pants.

I've had days where I could relate.

I got a call this morning - I've been offered the customer service job I interviewed for. Of the two jobs that I've had more than one interview for, this is the one I wanted. For starters, they weren't all bizarre about money. Also, I've met three (of the six or so) people on the team, and I think they'd be good to work with.

Also, by the nature of this job, I'll learn a lot more about how the company functions.

There are downsides - shift work (although all shifts are between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.), it's a contract (so no vacation or sick time), and the pay is less than I would have made elsewhere. (The pay difference is because it's a different type of job, not because of the company.)

The upsides? A bigger company, people I think I'll enjoy working with, different work (and lots of it), and the potential for it to become permanent.

I don't have an official offer letter (or a start date) yet, as they need to do a background check first. I did talk to the manager and she suspects I'll start around Feb. 22.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oh, you meant turn left?

I went to renew my health card today. Mapquest said it would take me 37 minutes to get there, so I left almost an hour in advance to allow time to get lost. It's a good thing I did. In the above picture, the wobbly green line is the route I should have taken. The wobbly red line is the route I did take. Eventually, I figured out where I went wrong and found the office.

I was still 10 minutes early. I went to the information desk, where I found out that I should have brought the renewal notice with me. I had the printout of my appointment, which told me to bring 4 forms of ID (citizenship, proof of address, name & signature, & supplemental), but did not tell me to bring the renewal notice. Since I didn't have it, I had to fill out another form there.

There was one person in front of me, so I had to wait while he finished. Shortly after my scheduled appointment time of 11, I got in. I was back in the car at 11:07.

When I got home, I looked through the job postings. After that, I called the account manager for my mortgage. It's up for renewal (well, at the end of May), and he sent me an early renewal offer. The end result? It's renewed effective next week at a lower interest rate (because rates have dropped in the last five years), and I didn't have to provide any verification of my income. Since I don't have a real income right now - I was a little concerned about how renewing my mortgage would go.

The other effect is that my payments go up by $14 + change, which I'm not thrilled about - I like having my payments be a nice round number since that makes me have to type fewer numbers when I record them in my chequing account spreadsheet. However, that's pretty trivial over all.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I think I'm coming down with a cold. I've been coughing like crazy all day. It has been a long time since I've had a cold - almost a year, I think. Obviously, I'd prefer to not be sick, but such is life.

Speaking of health, my health card is set to expire in a couple of months.

For those of you outside of Canada, this is the card that needs to be presented for doctors visits, blood tests, etc. It's how the province knows who to pay, basically.

In Ontario, there are two types - the old cards, which last forever, and the new cards, which have to be renewed every 5 years. I originally had an old card, but I had to get a new card when they were still attempting to move everyone to the new cards. The new card has a picture - the old one doesn't.

Anyway, 5 years ago (and 10 years ago) when I had to renew my card, I picked a slow Friday afternoon, drove downtown, and got my picture taken. The process (not counting the driving) took about 20 minutes.

You can't do that anymore. Now, you need to make an appointment online and then show up in your designated 15-minute period. Oddly, there doesn't appear to be an office downtown anymore - I was given the choice of one in Kanata (i.e. west Ottawa), one in Kemptville (30 minutes south), or else ones in the Toronto area.

I tried to book an appointment in Kanata, but their first available appointment was in March. I went back and chose the Kemptville option. My appointment is on Wednesday - assuming, of course, that I'm not too sick. I have no objections to appearing sick in the picture, but I'm not going to drive if I can't keep my eyes open.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Back From Camp

Spark camp was Friday night. We stayed at a local museum. It's quite small, and they are really glad to work with Guiding groups.

I went to the gym on Friday morning, then went out and bought the groceries. Instead of bringing them home, I stopped by and dropped them off at the museum.

Because the girls are so young, we do a mother/daughter camp. Everyone was supposed to arrive at 6 on Friday, so one of my co-leaders and I met back at the museum at 5:30 to get organized. We had ordered pizza, and it arrived promptly at 5:45.

The museum staff had planned a program running from 6:30 - 8. They took the girls on a tour of the museum, had them draw pictures of famous Canadian women, and helped them make beaded bracelets.

Since we weren't running the program, I left shortly before 6 to go to my boxing class. If we had been organizing the program, I would have stayed, but it seemed silly to miss my class to sit around and watch.

I made it back by 8:15. When I got there, everyone was outside making ice cream (and running around). We came back in and ate our snack. By the time we got the beds up and ready, it was well after nine, so the girls went right to bed.

At that point, one of the other leaders helped me get the breakfast in the slow cooker.

We started with 1/2 a package of frozen hash browns. We cubed a pound of cooked ham and put 1/3 of it on top of the hash browns. Next, we sprinkled it with dried diced onions, then put shredded cheese on top. We repeated these layers two more times. Next, we beat a dozen eggs with a cup of milk and poured it on top of the layers, then we turned the slow cooker on low and let it do its thing. It was really tasty.

When we got up in the morning, we packed up the beds, had breakfast, and then made buildings out of boxes and jars covered in construction paper. Each girl made one or more buildings, and then we combined them to make a city.

After that, we went outside to play some games, and then we made smores over a milk carton oven.

To make a milk carton oven, you take a 1 litre milk carton (500 ml would actually work better, but I never have those), cut a slit down it lengthwise, then put in 4 charcoal briquettes and a couple of fire starters. You then cover the whole thing in foil. When you go to use it, you open the foil (and use it to protect the ground), light the fire starters, and let them light the briquettes.

The girls had a good time, but the briquettes were slow to start (as they often are), and the marshmallows kept freezing. Oh well.

The nice part is that I was home before noon on Saturday. I had time to take a nap in the afternoon, and I have all day today free.

Of course, the nap was necessary because I was tired and I was going to Guys and Dolls in Concert at the NAC last night. I enjoyed the show - I wasn't really sure what to expect, but it was basically the regular play, but some parts were read out of binders. (I think that's what it was - I haven't actually seen the musical otherwise.)

(Oh, and I put my green bin out for the first time on Friday. It was properly lined with newspaper, and didn't have a lot of wet waste, so it shouldn't be frozen - and yet it wasn't emptied.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's Wednesday

Well, it is Wednesday. My brain thinks it's Thursday - I've spent all day correcting myself. (I also at one point thought it was next week.)

I blame Sparks camp, which is fast approaching. From an organizational point of view, this is one of the easiest camps I've ever planned, so I'm not sure why it has broken my brain. The museum staff is doing basically all of the program on Friday night, so we only have to do the Saturday morning program.

We're going to try a hot breakfast cooked in the slow cooker, so that should be interesting. Hopefully, it will save a lot of time in the morning.

I did manage to make it to my interview today. I think it went well. I was interviewed by a member of the team, and we got along well.

Also, remember the green bins? Now that I've started using mine, I'm amazed at the stuff that can go into it. I will have to bring mine out to the curb this week.

Not today, though. It's only Wednesday. If only I can remember that the rest of the evening.