Happy Valentine’s Day!

To the most beautiful IKEA furniture assembler I know, Sylvia Zaal.

This year will be our 14th year as a married couple and you never cease to amaze me. I wish I was a better man so you would have a better life.

Love you immensely!

X

Happy New Year!

Another year comes to a close with me on the computer and my wife sleeping soundly on the couch. I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.

I have plenty of things to be thankful for even though I have a lot of shit going on that just generally sucks. My wife continues being the best thing that ever happened to me, I get a chance to travel ( though not as much as I would like ), I work with people who I enjoy going out with and consuming soju (SSome in Calgary is great) and I don’t particularly mind going into work everyday.

These are all things that I know I should be grateful for; and I am.  But like many other people I know, more would be better. More time off, more salary, more enjoyable work projects.

New Years’ Resolutions rub me the wrong way; I don’t like them. Too often people say what they’d like to change without ever actually putting a plan together for how they are going to make those changes in their life. I was one of those people for many years.  Then I just stopped making them. Completely.

That won’t change this year either. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve done so far and make slight course corrections as necessary to continue pushing myself in the same direction I have since the Winter of 2008: to give my wife a life that both of us can enjoy to it’s fullest. If I can keep my wife happy, my life will follow.

I wish whoever took the time to read this the very best of 2016 and hope that you get exactly what you work for or exactly what you have coming to you.

Slainte!

BlackJack: Or How I’m Proving I’m Not My Father

Sly and I have made an annual trip to Vegas during the Xmas break. It’s turned into a bit of a tradition and I’ll tell you why (in no particular order):

  • Inexpensive
  • Endless entertainment options
  • World Class dining establishments
  • No snow
  • No (family) drama

After our first trip we really understood how Vegas could answer the holiday blues for us. When it came time to decide our vacation the next Xmas break, it was a very easy decision to make. So we went again. And it was glorious.

We ate at Burgr, had a champagne brunch (bring on the pitcher of mimosa!!!) , and saw Zarkana, another of the incomparable Cirque de Soleil shows. We visited the Mob Museum, wandered around Fremont Street and did some shopping at the North and South Premium Outlets! Our hotel last year was the MGM Grand and our room was so fantastic, we’ll be using them for our hotel again due to the amenities and the proximity to the theatre we attend to see a movie or two. (Last year we managed to get into a preview of Into the Woods! So cool!). See the gallery below for some pictures.

You’ll notice something from the list of activities above: no gambling in a city where gambling is one of the main draws. Not to say we didn’t gamble! Sly and I spent a bit of time at a Walking Dead slot machine and had a great time. We even ended up coming out significantly ahead due to a lucky spin. But that was it, nothing else. No poker, no blackjack, no roulette.

As you may or may not know, my Father was a gambler. Even worse, he was a gambler that didn’t know when to quit and, I realize now, didn’t understand that gambling to excess is like anything else: damaging to yourself and those around you. Eventually he lost something of value beyond a few restaurants and money: he lost his family.

Continue reading “BlackJack: Or How I’m Proving I’m Not My Father”

“Fortune and Glory, kid; Fortune and Glory”

Found out over the weekend that Disney plans on opening an Indiana Jones themed restaurant and bar in Downtown Disney. OMG!

Indiana Jones is probably one of my favorite franchises and the thought of being able to have a meal and a drink in this type of themed facility excites me to no end. I’m hoping for a level of authenticity without so much… ‘polish’.

Disney has several areas that could be considered ‘authentic’. The first that comes to mind is the area of the Animal Kingdom that they call Africa. There’s a little village in there with some neat shops, a bar and a restaurant that simply makes me feel like I’m sitting in a bar, having an African beer in the middle of the Congo.  That’s the sort of thing I’m hoping for.

When Sly and I started vacationing at Disney, it was almost exclusively for her. Then slowly but surely there were more and more things that I am in and wanted to see.  Star Wars was huge. When Disney bought the Marvel Studios means that there will be something occurring in that vein in the future. And now this.

I can only hope they do it right. I have confidence in the Imagineers and their love of the material. And I can hardly wait till I get a chance to tip my Poet’s Hat back on my head and enjoy a shot of whiskey.  🙂

One Month Anniversary

I’ve worked at SAIT as a full employee (not contract wages) for the past month. In that time I’ve had opportunity to have one day in Edmonton, expenses and salary paid, for the ASTEK awards (second place 🙁 ), one flex day (which is a day off with pay) and one sick day, also paid.

Is this what the real world is like?  Full of perks and benefits that a lot of people don’t get to take advantage of?  I could probably get used to this.

Also, after going over the annual bank statements, it also appears that one of the more challenging times during the year was two weeks after the Xmas break where the income was almost non-existent due to the two-week hold back on reporting wages and actually getting paid for them.   Not working for almost two weeks will do that to a person. 😉

I don’t think I’ve ever had a job that paid me for time off nor have I ever been in a place where I wasn’t actually having to wait for pay for the work I’ve done.  At least two weeks, anyways.

It feels good and I really appreciate being able to experience this with Sly and take that “next adult step”.  I know it probably sounds odd but this isn’t something I ever really considered as important and,  until I’ve given it more thought,  it may turn out that it isn’t .  But I know that with Xmas holidays this year,  there will be no break in my pay;  I’ll still get the same amount, every two weeks as expected without pause.  So, in effect, I’m being paid while in Las Vegas.  I guess that means blowing a couple of bills in the slots or at the tables won’t make me feel as guilty.

Oh Happy Day! 🙂

Kudos to Sly

Only a few people in my immediate circle know this but I think it’s about time it got some attention: Sly has lost almost 44 pounds over the past few months simply by changing a few behaviors and spending time working out.

That’s it.

No amazing diet, no need to purchase meals from some “club”.  Just honest to goodness willpower and a consistency in decision making.

Probably more important, she’s been so quiet about it.  It’s not something that she has been advertising and she might be a little bit mad at me for posting this here.

I probably don’t do enough to recognize the amazing lady my wife has become.  Hopefully she’ll get a chance to read this and understand that she’s been able to illustrate a real strength and she should be proud, as I am, that she’s done this.  A real strength that, if I attempted similar activities, might not be nearly as resilient.

Congrats, babe.  You really have earned it.

PROMOTED!!!

Ok, so if you’re not into Battlefield 3 or 4 then the title of this post is probably nonsense.  I’m embedding the video below for some context.

Funny.

I’ve worked at SAIT for several years now.  After graduation, I was lucky enough to get in with the Commercial Services department which allowed me to gain even more experience with the internal workings of an educational institution as well as spend time working on some of my less ‘programmy’ skills. This included acting as a contracted manager for a medium-sized project creating the groundwork for an internally branded and operated RFID based commerce card.

Continue reading “PROMOTED!!!”

Back to the Real World

Edit: I never did post this. Not sure why. Perhaps too bitter? Fuck it. It’s going up.


 

We’re back home. yay.

Perhaps not the most interesting way to phrase it but there it is. Three weeks in Europe, bouncing around and seeing the sites, really makes you want to stay. Like seriously stay. I considered it for longer than I probably should have.

One negative aspect of living freely while traveling is seeing so many “possibilities”, and probably not valid possibilities at that. You look around at some location, the locals going about their daily business and think to yourself, “You know, I could do this. I could do this right here. I don’t have to go back.”

Of course, that’s bullshit. There’s so many things you’re not thinking about when romanticizing the possibility of sticking around in a foreign country: where are you going to sleep? How are you going to find work? What about health insurance while you’re in a country that’s not going to be happy if you fuck yourself up and need hospitalization? None of these things pop into mind when you’re gazing lovingly at that pretty bridge or amazing vista in the distance. No, you just want to  experience those things day in, day out while you live there.

Sure, the idea is great but the reality really sucks; trust me, I lived it. For almost a year I lived in London and during the time I was trying to survive, I didn’t see a goddamned thing that could be called a tourist attraction. And that’s what happens most of the time; you’re so busy working and commuting that you don’t make time to do the sightseeing you thought you’d do.

Some Notes on Paris

We’ve been here for a few days and I had the opportunity to experience a few things and wanted to jot them down here. This is an itemized list of the activities that have occurred since our arrival on Thursday. By no means is this a complete list but it is still lengthy and may only be interesting to you if you read it in John Cleese’s voice. Just try it, you’ll see what I mean.

  • Long ass plane ride to France; no sleep for the duration
  • Arrive dumb, hot and tired
  • Didn’t get the SIM card I wanted but did manage to get one that most tourists would use. Fitting, I guess.
  • Had trouble getting tickets for RER train from CDG Airport to Paris proper. Eventually rectified.
  • Thirty minute ride into the city quite enjoyable.
  • Arrival at Gare du Nord for transfer to metro for rest of journey to hotel.
  • Misread ticket entrance gate and needed to buy a carnet of tickets (book of 10) to get on the metro.
  • Left baggage with travel partners and ventured to find a ticket dispenser with Sly.
  • Eventually found machine and realized they don’t take bills. Goddamnit.
  • Visited ticket counter with a human being and purchased tickets
  • Returned back to the entrance gate and AGAIN misread response from gate. One wasted ticket and embarrassed Zaal. Used another ticket to finally make it through.
  • 5 stations later we’re in our neighborhood.
  • Walk 1/2 click to our hotel. 2 stars and looks like it.
  • One room is ready, the other is not. Drop all bags in room. Dave an I head out to find a grocery or convenience store.
  • 15 minutes in one direction we find a grocery store, buy some water and fruit. Back to hotel.
  • It’s now hot in the room and we realize there is no AC. Two fucking stars indeed. Open windows and realize we’re in party central. During the World cup. With the matches mostly being played in late evening/early morning. Sleep is difficult in the heat and keeping the windows open is too noisy. My life just, you know, sucks.
  • Wake up at 3 AM to Parisians celebrating football. Loudly.
  • Up at 0830 for the included “continental” breakfast. Baguette, croissants, café au lait, yogurt. Not horrible.
  • Out of the hotel by 9, we’re in the metro and headed to Concorde station for the first day of our walkabout. First encounter with a young street urchin asking if I spoke English.
  • Wandered up the Champs Elyse checking out things that I probably couldn’t afford, like, ever.
  • Arc de Triomphe. Cool. Gendarmes show up and send the urchins fleeing to the four winds. Been a while since I’ve seen people scatter so quickly in fear.
  • Walk to the Eiffel Tour while attempting to find a public toilet. Eventually decided it might just be easier to get a picnic lunch and then use their facilities instead.
  • Get to the Eiffel Tour and get a few more urchins and French Africans touting their “5 for a Euro” tower replicas. Can only imagine them being filled with lead and mercury for such amazing prices.
  • Picnic lunch under the tower. Wonderful way to spend some time
  • Wander through the park on the way to the Rodin Museum.
  • Saw “The Thinker”. Art appreciation +5.
  • Train back to our hotel. Sardine conditions with people pressed up against me from all directions. Wish I’d dieted more before I left.
  • Discovered Flunch. Never knew that IKEA would lose it’s status in my mind as the top of the department store cafeteria category. When the people at IKEA finally get off their asses and start serving wine in glass decanters, I’ll consider changing that decision.
  • Some nameless Parisian man: “Football! Football! Football! Football! Football!”. All. Fucking. Night.
  • Middle of the night text conversation with my bro, Homer Sapient
  • Another great breakfast. Loving Cafe au Lait. Need to be making this shit at home.
  • Out the door and headed to the Sacre Coeur.
  • Stopped at some coffee shop for an extra jolt via a very large cappuccino.
  • Make it to the church on time. Wander up the 200+ steps. Had to shoo away several “friendship bracelet” hawkers. Reinforcement through volume is my chosen tactic. Embarrasses Sly but I have yet to need to do anything else to get them to make like a tree and fuck off.
  • Took many pictures.
  • Entered the church. Managed to stow my prejudices long enough to admire the stained glass and the main dome. Really beautiful. Even purchased a postcard from the gift shop. Hope funds won’t be used to relocate a priest accused of child abuse. Damnit, there’s that prejudice again.
  • Back outside and the short walk to the hotel.
  • It’s not time for lunch; it’s time for flunch!
  • Nap. Sweet, sweet nap.
  • Movie with my baby. “One Million Ways to Die in the West” is known in France as “Albert à l’Ouest”, which loosely translated means “Albert from the West”. I think.
  • Another wander around and then back for some note taking

Tomorrow is the Louvre. Going to visit with Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Monday and Tuesday will be Disney Paris. Wednesday we leave for London.