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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Going ice skating

When someone hasn’t done something for a long time, it is often said that the ability for this or that will come back to them naturally. “It’s like riding a bike” they say.
Let me assure you, that is baloney.
Take for instance ice skating.

When I heard that colleagues planned to go ice skating, I was one of the first to sign up to join the group. After all, I had once enjoyed ice skating and even though the last time I had been on the ice was some thirteen years ago, I assumed that my body would remember the balance and the ability to skate. It would be just like riding a bike.

We happily chattered on the way to Nathan Phillip Square, where there is an open air ice rink. We somewhat fell silent as we lined up to hire skates. As we saw the ice and saw the skaters (struggling to stay vertical) our courage began to fail. Would this be like riding a bike?

By the time I strapped on my skates I was half frozen and shivering like a leaf on an Alaska tree. Whether this was due to the cold December wind or nerves I’ll never know.
I struggled to get up from the bench and to stay on my feet. Oh dear, and I was still on rubber carpeting. What would it be like once I was on the ice?
I soon found out ... it was hell on blades.

Even with the support from my son, I stood there, too scared to move. Where were the barricades to hold on to? Where was the balance I once had? Where was the ability to do this on my own? I had once done it, why couldn’t I do this anymore?
Like a wooden doll I shuffled on my skates, in danger of going down at any moment, holding on to my son’s hand for dear life.

As he guided me around the rink I didn’t feel the cold anymore, I felt nothing except fear of going down and breaking something I might need later.
When a colleague came along I clutched at his hand too and now supported by two strong arms I started to feel a bit more secure. Given time I probably would have gotten the hang of it again, but all too soon it was time to leave the ice and head back to the office.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to take up skating again, in a proper ice rink that is. A rink with barricades to hold on to until I find that lost balance again.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!
Was yours a merry Christmas or was Christmas Eve just another evening and Christmas Day just another day? If it was, don’t worry, I’ll bet it was just another evening and just another day for a lot of folks.

The Christmas season has been somewhat romanticized by movies, TV series, books and even Christmas cards. A serene white landscape with white glistening snow; a warm yellow glow radiating from a fairly lights decorated house; a festively decked table on which sits a golden brown turkey; a family gathered around a floor to ceiling Christmas tree.
On TV and on paper it all looks so beautiful, but what about real life?

Where it comes to snow, people seldom get misty eyed when gazing upon a snowy landscape. They shiver at the thought of having to go outside or frown and sigh at the thought of having to shovel snow again.
Those who decorated their house with fairly lights are gonna get a nasty surprise when they see their electrical bill. I have to pay how much?
As for that golden brown turkey ... I’ll bet you anything that quite a few turkeys didn’t quite reach that kind of golden brown perfection. Some were probably a little pale, while others were covered up with gravy to hide a distinct blackness. And if a turkey looked good, how did it taste? Was it tender and juicy or was it a bit on the dry side?
As for the beautifully decorated Christmas tree, how many families can afford a floor to ceiling model? Most probably have to make do with a smaller version, decorated with what fit the budget or the circumstances.

For instance, I love glass balls with lots of glitter for the Christmas tree, but in my house that would be a dumb thing to use. I have five very inquisitive cats and glass balls would have a very short lifespan. So I can only decorate my tree with unbreakable balls. I also love tinsel, but that’s a no no too. My cats are not only inquisitive, they are also chewers and I rather don’t have to take them on an emergency visit to the vet due to tinsel chewing.

For large families it’s probably nice getting together on Christmas, but having them all around the dinner table does present some problems. Can you imagine how much potatoes have to be peeled to feed between ten to thirty people? Have you any idea how many vegetables have to be chopped? And what about the dishes ... who is gonna volunteer to wash all those plates, glasses and cups? Not to mention all the cooking pots and pans.

If your Christmas wasn’t all that merry, think about that. You may be single and living in a highrise, but at least you don’t have snow to shovel and your hydro bill won’t let your eyes grow the size of teacups. I’ll bet that the take-out you ordered was just as good, if not better, than that burned dried out turkey. And as for your Christmas tree ... size really doesn’t matter.
In case you didn’t get to buy any gifts, and didn’t get any gifts, what’s stopping you from buying a gift for yourself? A little something from me to me.

Don’t you go feeling sorry for yourself at Christmas, there are others who are a lot worse off than you. The hospitals are full of the sick who may or may not get better; in convalescent homes folks are trying to cope with the hand life has dealt them and all us and all of them are better off than those living on the streets, gazing upon homes, thinking of the home they once had.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

TTC - The Better Way


Officially the Toronto Transit Commission is known as the TTC. Users of this type of transportation have another name for the TTC though ... Toronto Trash Cans.
The TTC’s slogan is ‘The Better Way’ but this week the subway was most certainly not the better way.

When I boarded a subway train last Wednesday, I heard the announcement that there was no service between Broadview station and St. George station.
I didn’t worry about this no-service too much, confident that by the time I got to Broadview the problem, whatever it was, would be fixed. I was wrong.
When I got to Broadview all passengers were instructed to leave the train as the train would turn back to Kennedy.

Some 300 people exited the train and joined the hundreds who already stood shivering on the Broadview platform.
After a while came the announcement that shuttle buses and streetcars would take passengers to their destination.
As another train arrived more people joined the throng of commuters already on the platform, shuffling toward the stairs. Seeing them go by, dressed in dark gear and keeping their heads down, they reminded me of the march of the penguins.

I had no intention of joining them. Cold as it was in the station, it would be even colder outside. The weather forecast had predicted -20 deg C (that’s -4 deg F) for that day and that was just a bit too cold for me.
Usually, if the TTC has a problem, it doesn’t take too long for whatever it is to be sorted out, so I preferred to wait inside. That wasn’t possible this time though. A TTC official walked the length of the platform informing everyone who, like me, had decided to wait it out, that it could take hours for the problem to be fixed.
Okay so I joined the ‘penguins’ and proceeded up the stairs too.

Ooh but it was cold. Even with a thick coat, a scarf wrapped around my head and gloves I could feel the cold wind going right through me, biting at my nose, fingers and toes. Where were the shuttle buses? Where were the streetcars? Oh they were there alright, but they were packed with people, like sardines in a can.
I got the idea of taking a cab to work. A good idea, except there was a problem ... there weren’t that many cabs available to begin with and with over a thousand people standing around Broadview station, I wasn’t alone who had thought of that.

Just then an announcement was made that the subway was up and running again and we could all go downstairs. Even though the words were greeted with relief, they presented a problem ... it would take some time for the mass of commuters to go back inside the station, down the stairs and onto a train. I suspected that it would take several trains to take care of this lot.
I was right, after we shuffled our way back onto the platform, trains - already full with peak hour passengers – had limited space to take in the waiting crowd.
Or let me put it this way ... my journey to work, which usually takes 45 minutes, that day took two and a half hours.

The TTC, the better way? I think not.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Quiet time

I’m spending an evening by myself. Dieter has gone to bed uncharacteristically early (10:30), the cats are all asleep, and with no TV and no music it’s so quiet here I can hear the tic toc tic toc of the wall clock.

This is just like old times, when I was unemployed. Back then I hardly ever went to bed before 2:30 a.m. I got up late, took a nap in the afternoon and since I didn’t have to get up early in the morning I could afford to get to bed at all hours of the night.

Since I started working again it’s quite different. I have to get up at 5:30, so I like to be in bed around 11:00.
Friday and Saturday night we usually sit up late, sometimes until 2:30 or even 3:00 a.m. We can sleep in the next day, so what does it matter when we extend an invitation to the sandman?

But tonight is different, Dieter’s right hand is broken and this little handicap has been bothering him. I guess we, with two capable hands, don’t quite realize what we have until one of them is out of action.

I could do with an early night too, because the stress of the past few weeks has been crazy. During September there was the running around of condo hunting; October brought stress with estate agents, lawyers and the bank; and if that isn't enough I had to put up with a colleague with the most annoying habit.

This guy was constantly clearing his throat and I do mean constantly.
There were times that not a minute passed without him clearing his throat. Can you imagine once a minute? That’s sixty throat clearings in an hour! I’d like to see anyone putting up with that
It a medical condition he said. Okay then why isn’t he doing something about it? Let him go see a doctor and get some medication to get it fixed. These days there is a remedy for almost anything and everything.

Okay so maybe it’s just me and I’m too sensitive, but I really can’t stand the noises people make. Whether it’s sniffing, snoring or throat clearing ... IT GETS ON MY NERVES!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Time management


Some blogger I am. My last entry is dated November 2nd, which means I haven’t written anything in two weeks. Has life really been that boring or have I been super busy with other things? A little of both I suppose.

There was a time that I sat up until all hours of the night, but now that I’m working (for the past three months and one week I might add) I have to be in bed at a certain time.

Of course working gets in the way of blogging too. Not only is there not a moment to spare to put a blog entry together, but at the end of the working day blogging is not exactly at the top of my list.
I usually come home bone tired. After a change of clothing and a short rest with a cup of coffee, there are chores to be done and dinner to be made.
After dinner and some TV there are email messages to be read and replied to and a farm to tend to, a farm at Farmville I mean. Ah yes, who is not playing that game these days? I’m at level 61 with limited crops, but more animals than I can handle.

And soon I will be having even less time. Yesterday we went to pick out wallpaper for the bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom and I’m the one who is going to do the papering. I’ve done it before, you could say I’m an old hand at wallpapering so I don’t foresee any problems, but still, it will take time so there will be even less time for blogging. How do other people manage? Do they have a time schedule? If you know something I don't, I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A bit of this and a bit of that


Those of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning might remember that some three and a half months ago I was bitching and whining about the heat.
The air-conditioning in our condo building had giving up and in a temperature of between 38 and 45 degrees C (100 - 113 degrees F), we were boiling in our units.

I remember sitting in front of a fan, my feet in a bucket of cold water, with a wet towel draped around my neck. All in an attempt to stay cool. The only time and place where it was sort of bearable was at night on the balcony, which is where I wrote some of these blog entries.

Now it’s a different story. Toronto got its first touch of frost last night and this morning it was bitterly cold. It warmed up a little during the day, but not much, the temperature was maybe 5 degrees C (41 degrees F). In the sun it was kind of nice, but the wind ruined every chance of warmth.

I don’t know which is worse, the heat or the cold. I suppose the heat. At least to protect oneself against the cold one can put on multiple layers of clothing, while with the heat there is only so much one can take off.

Still, I’m not looking forward to winter. From now until the end of March we’re gonna have to bundle up in sweaters and coats, scarves and gloves and shiver until our teeth rattle.

While it’s dry it’s not so bad, but oh dear, soon we might get ice and snow and that’s gonna make everything even worse. I like falling snow as much as the next person, and the white blanket does make everything look beautiful, but unfortunately that kind of beauty is fleeting. Soon the white snow turns into a gray mess, starts melting and creates ice patches. Uuuh, I can’t even think about it without shivering.

On a different subject ... as of October 29th we’re home owners. Yep, we bought the condo we’ve been living in for the past six years. During the whole of September we went condo shopping but didn’t see anything we liked. It was basically a case of, what we liked we couldn’t afford and what we could afford we didn’t like. So we decided to stay where we are.

On a different note still ... last weekend Dieter and I played in a ten-pin bowling tournament. We weren’t going to play at first, seeing the entry fee was $50 per person, but in the end we couldn’t stop ourselves. I noticed how much Dieter wanted to play, wanted to test his skills against other bowlers and truth be told I like a bit of competition too. So we entered.

Two squads were to play, the first squad at 12:00 and the second at 2:00 p.m. We played in the 2:00 p.m. time slot. We played four games qualifying and at the end of that round we were in first place.
Next came the finals which were three games round robin.
And we nailed it. We beat our opponents one after another and with only two teams remaining (we and another team) it was time for the slaughter.
Dieter played an amazing game and scored 246, beating the pants off the competition. I didn’t do too bad either and so together we took first place!
Prize money ... (drum roll) $800.
We floated home on Cloud 9.

Is this the beginning of good times to come?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is that fake falcon meant to scare me?

 
Pigeons are smart birds. If anyone doubts this, just watch them downtown Toronto.

Ryerson University has placed two fake falcons on the ledge of their building to keep the pigeons away. So far this has worked, but something tells me this is about to change.
Today I watched a small flock of pigeons looking for a place to land at Ryerson University. Most of them flew away when spotting the falcon and settled at a neighboring building, but one of them felt brave (or lucky). He spotted the two falcons, circled around one of them a few times, then gathered up all his courage and plonked himself next to one.

Then he sat there, looking at the fake falcon, not quite sure what this make of this motionless bird. He crept a little closer, gaining confidence but still not trusting the predator.
After traipsing back and forth a bit, with no reaction from the falcon, the pigeon lowered his head and cast a sideways glance.
He clearly didn’t understand the bird. As a predator he was supposed to show an interest, but not only did he tolerate a pigeon next to him but he ignored the easy pry’s entertainment.

My guess is, if this pigeon figured out that the falcon is fake then so will others and in that case Ryerson University’s security system against pigeons is blown. If word gets out about the fake falcons they’ll be the laughing stock of the bird world.

In Scarborough one of the pigeons went a step further.
In one of the yards of the houses next to the RT railway the residents have placed a pole with a fake falcon at the top. Instead of scaring the pigeons away, the falcon has become a resting place for the birds as I noticed a pigeon sitting on top of the fake falcon.

Fake falcons ... humans are so stupid thinking the pigeons are gonna fall for that one. Don't they know how smart pigeons are? They have eyes, they have a brain, they'll figure it out and then watch out humans ... their revenge will be sweet.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lotto Winnings


Tonight was Lotto night and I won ... nothing.
I was close, I could have had four numbers right, but close isn’t good enough.

The Lotto corporation’s motto is ‘You have to be in it to win it’. Well, I have been in it. I have been in it for years, but I haven’t won yet.
What exactly do they mean by ‘You have to be in it to win it'? Win a free ticket? Win five or ten bucks? That’s all I’ve ever won.
No, wait, I’m lying.

We were only two or three weeks in Canada when I started playing Lotto. Back then I played Super 7 and when checking my ticket I noticed, with growing excitement, that I had not three or four but five numbers right.
Being new to the game I thought I had won several thousand dollars.
I mean, five out of seven numbers, that had to be a sizeable payout, right?
Wrong, I won exactly $132,23.

Since then I’ve won numerous free tickets for three correct numbers and the occasional $10 for four correct numbers, but other than that ... nothing worth mentioning.

Occasionally you hear or read of people who won the jackpot. Usually old folks or the disabled. And if you hear of someone winning it’s usually a lucky shot. According to their interview they usually never play, them buying a ticket was a fluke, a shot in the dark. Yet here they are, millionaires.

Don’t you find it strange that it’s always old folks, disabled or ‘new’ players that win? Maybe it looks better that way for the Lotto corporation. I mean, how would it sound if a 32 year accountant stated that he had been playing for years and years and never won anything more than $10? That wouldn’t exactly prompt people to buy a ticket, now would it?
They might think ... ‘If that guy had been playing for years without winning anything, then we might also have to wait for a long long time before this game pays off’.
On the other hand, if you hear someone stating that he was a first time ticket buyer, then others might think they might get lucky too.
Does it all come down to strategy?

So what happens to all the money that the Lotto corporation collects? Does it all go back to the players or does it find another purpose? I once heard that half of it goes to the players and half of it gets divided among charities.
So let’s say that the Lotto corporation collects forty million dollars in one week, does that mean that twenty million dollars get divided among charities? Surely not, if that were the case the charities would be swimming in money.
I personally support the Toronto Cat Rescue (TCR for short) and I’ve never heard of them receiving a cent from the Lotto corporation.
So where does the money go?

If I question the Lotto corporation as I do, why do I keep playing you might wonder. Simple, I have two sets of numbers I’ve been playing with for years and I know them by heart.
In the event that I forget to play, as I did yesterday, I don’t dare to look at the Lotto results for fear of seeing some or (God forbid) all ‘my’ numbers. Can you imagine, playing for years, not playing one week and exactly that week having the winning numbers! I would go bananas!

So I keep on playing and hoping. Maybe one day when I’m old and/or disabled I might actually win.

Monday, October 18, 2010

On the war path

I did it! I finally did it! I threw caution to the wind today and approached a man.

It happened during lunchtime. I had installed myself with my book and my cup of tea in one of the deep armchairs at Timothy’s coffee shop when suddenly ... I heard someone sniffing. A loud, truly disgusting sniff.
I looked around. Who was it?

Was it one of the Asian youngsters at the next table on my right? No, they were too busy talking. Then again, some people can talk and sniff at the same time.

Was it the tourist at the next table on my left? In his jeans and checkered shirt he looked like the type that couldn’t be bothered to blow his nose.

Was it the distinguishing looking gentleman two tables down? No, surely not. He was impeccable dressed, sporting an expensive looking watch and was reading a hardcover book on finance. Surely he could afford a handkerchief and wouldn’t be so rude as to pull up his nose.

Was it the lady by the counter? She had just ordered a cup of coffee and a muffin. With a handbag clutched under her right arm and both hands full she didn’t exactly have a hand to spare to blow her nose. Was she the sniffer?

As she passed me I heard the disgusting sniff again. Was it her? No, definitely not, the sniff had come from further away.
For the next few seconds I was on high alert, looking and listening at the same time. At the next sniff, a double sniff it was, I identified the sniffer ... the distinguished looking gentleman.

I couldn’t believe it. He looked so perfect, from his impeccable haircut, down to his beautifully tailored suit and his polished leather shoes. How could he be so ... so ... sloppy not to carry a handkerchief or at least some paper tissues!

I sat there, fuming, steam practically coming out of my ears. Was I gonna have to put up with this ear torture for the next hour? Was my hour of quiet reading gonna be ruined by this bozo? No, it was not. I was gonna say something. I was gonna do something. But what? I didn’t exactly want to cause a scene or embarrass him (and me in the process).

At the next sniff I threw caution to the wind, grabbed one of my travel pack tissues, got up and walked over to his table. My heart was hammering in my chest and my mouth was badly in need of a swig of tea. What if he said ‘I don’t need a tissue’ or ‘Who do you think you are approaching me?’ or anything to that effect.

Having arrived at his table I deposited the tissue next to his coffee and said “Perhaps you would like one of these”. I was perfectly polite, I didn’t look at him and I immediately walked away.

He didn’t say anything, but by the time I got back to my table he was blowing his nose. No more sniffing. Aaaah, peace and quiet at last.

Let’s hope that Mr. Distinguished learned his lesson and will carry some tissues from now on.
Me, I was ever so proud of myself, I had done it, I had finally done it. I had not put up with the sniffing and done something about it. Will I do it again? You bet, from now on if anyone in my vicinity starts sniffing they’re gonna get it ... a tissue that is.

It might be a good idea to buy stocks in Kleenex as there are a lot of sniffers in and around Toronto.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Are you an eagle or pigeon?


We came across an injured pigeon yesterday. He was dragging himself along the sidewalk with a broken wing. A sad sight it was. Until recently this bird had soared the skies, but was now reduced to something that resembled limping. If there had been a park or a wooded area around, I would have picked him up and carried him to safety, but being downtown there was nowhere I could take him. I wondered how he would survive, if he would survive.

Many people look down on pigeons, think of them as carriers of diseases. Yet, what makes them so different from other birds? All birds have a head, a body, paws and wings, yet while the eagle is admired and the hummingbird brings about a tender smile, the pigeon is despised by some.

I wonder if the same could apply to people. Imagine aliens visiting our planet. They might see royalty the way we see eagles ... beautiful in their fine ‘plumage’, flying high, looking down their noses, but in general of not much use.
Executives and other big money makers could be compared to hummingbirds. Beautifully attired, constantly on the go, always busy sucking up.
And then there would be the working class, the pigeons. Gathering in flocks, hanging around where there is food and water to be had and pushing each other out of the way when someone throws them a few crumbs.


In which of the categories do you belong?
As for diseases and germs ... are there bigger carriers of diseases and germs than humans?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks for all life's blessings. Expressing thanks for family and friends; expressing thanks for good health and good fortune; or giving thanks for whatever people think they ought to be thankful for.

Yet does anyone remember to give thanks to the golden brown, roasted turkey that sits in the middle of their festive decked table? Does anyone ever pause to thank him for giving his life?

As an animal lover I can't help but feel sorry for the masses of turkeys that are purposely raised and then slaughtered each year for this holiday. When I contemplated the numbers, something gruesome occurred to me. If a million turkey are killed and each turkey holds one liter of blood that equals a million liters of blood! Try to imagine how much blood that would be. It's not a pleasant thought, I know, but I'm mentally seeing a river of blood.

Don't think that I'm forgetting about all of the other animals that give their lives to feed us. I am not the only one, as PETA constantly struggles to create awareness about animal cruelty. PETA does more than fight the fur industry, they also fight for animal rights and for the humane raising and processing of animals.

Because we no longer kill animals ourselves, we often forget about their pain and suffering. We close our minds to the reality that the animals might have been raised in tiny cages, preventing any movement, so they can grow fatter and succulent more quickly and at a cheaper cost.

We don't like to think that animals have emotions or experience fear and pain. Fear when they are being grabbed and transported to a slaughterhouse; pain when their necks are snapped or throats are slit.

Happy Thanksgiving Canadians

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Boobs on display


I would like to challenge all you men out there (and to a certain extend women too). I wonder what would happen if a man would go up to a woman and ask her if he can see one of her breasts. Or if a woman sees another woman with nice breasts what would happen if she were to ask her if she could have a look at them.

My guess is that a man making such a request would get a slap around his ears and if a woman were to ask such a thing she would be told to take a hike or at the very least get a look telling her she’s weird.
Yet it seems to be perfectly acceptable for a woman to unbutton a shirt, whip out one of her boobs and start breastfeeding a baby.

I spotted this yesterday in a packed to capacity Timothy’s coffee shop during lunchtime. The woman, in her early twenties was feeding her kid with part of her rack exposed, facing the floor to ceiling windows on Dundas street where the sidewalk was crawling with office workers on lunch and Ryerson university students stretching their legs.

Anyone looking into the coffee shop would get an eyeful, not to mention the customers of the coffee shop who didn’t quite know where to look. Was it okay to look? Should they look away? Why would they look away if the woman so openly displayed the private milk shop?

“Breastfeeding is perfectly natural,” she told me. Yeah well, so is peeing and pooping, but you try doing that in public.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Halloween shopping

Nearly twelve years we’ve been in Canada and for the first time we’re gonna decorate for Halloween. Previous years we may have hung a spooky little something on the front door, or placed a little pumpkin on the coffee table, but that was pretty much it.

Being from Europe we don’t actually celebrate Halloween. In Belgium we observe All Saints on November first and All Souls on November second by way of a trip to the cemetery. No, not to scare the living daylights out of visiting mourners, to place flowers on loved one’s’ graves. A beautiful sight it is too, when the dull cemetery is transformed into a sea of flowers. Mostly white, yellow or purple chrysanthemums .

But not this year, this year we’re throwing our heart and soul into decorating. In preparation for the big day, or big night, we did a little shopping. Most stores were a bit of a disappointment though. Other than a few pumpkins, cauldrons and face masks they didn’t stock any Halloween decorations. So we went to the one store where I thought we might have more luck ... the dollar store.

They usually go all out with their Christmas and Easter decorations, so I figured they would stock an abundance of Halloween decorations too. And I was right, the dollar store held aisles and aisles of decorations: crows, rats, cats, bats, spiders, jack o lanterns, bloody severed limbs, gravestones, etc. etc. etc.
Short of the bloody limbs and the spiders, we got a bit of everything. We walked out of that store with two big bags to the value of $46, so you can imagine.

Part of the decorations will be for home and part will be for our work cubicles.  We can do more decorating at work than we can at home because at work we don’t have five cats roaming around, taking an interest in anything and everything. I mean, we could place some decorations on top of cabinets and tables at home, but how long would they remain standing? Not long, I can tell you that. Birds, rats and cats would be knocked off their socks; bats would take a flying leap; and as for graveyard stones and jack o lanterns ... let’s just say they wouldn’t live long.

So we’ll be doing some decorating tomorrow and the rest will be taken to work. It’s a safer environment for the scary bits there.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday night ... bowling night

Sometimes I surprise myself.
After a hard day at work (it’s month end) I didn’t look forward to tonight’s league bowling, I was convinced I was gonna bowl crap, crap and more crap.

I mean, I was rushed off my feet and everything that could go wrong went wrong.
For starters my computer froze and I was without a particular software for three hours. Under normal circumstances this would have been a inconvenience, but at month end lack of software is near disastrous. So that was three hours lost.

When I finally could work again I encountered one problem after another. When I left work at 4:30 there was still a lot to do and tomorrow more is coming in. It’s gonna take a small miracle to finish everything.

By the time I got home I was pooped. I would have loved to put my feet up and not think about anything anymore, but that was not to be. This being Wednesday, it’s league bowling day.

The walk to the bowling alley was refreshing. It wasn’t cold, it wasn’t warm, the temperature was just right. And some fresh air and exercise was apparently just what I needed.

My first game was a 204, my second 179 and my third .. well, let’s not talk about that one. All in all I did better than expected.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The most expensive item

Do you know what the most expensive item is these days? Forget designer clothing, diamond jewelry or even a sports car, people can afford those. I see them every day, men and women dressed in Gucci or Armani, wearing Guess shoes and handbags, sporting jewelry that spews a rainbow fountain of colors. Yet only a select few can afford ... a box of tissues.

In this time of year, when half of the population has a cold or at least needs to blow their nose from time to time, you would think that the wet nosers would stock up on tissues for the office and a packet of paper handkerchiefs for when on the go, but that is not the case.

When plagued with a snotty nose they use the top or bottom part of their sleeve or worse, nothing. They pull up their nose again and again and again, obviously hoping that whatever wants to come out will go away.

It makes me want to grab their Guess bag and hit them over the head with it, or strangle them with their Gucci tie. I mean really, just how much does a box of Kleenex cost these days? I’ll tell you how much, $3.25 for the kind that has lotion in them; $2:00 for the regular kind and 99 cents for something store brand. Is that so much? Can’t the regular and designer clad folks afford another 99 cents to keep their nose clean?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let me rant


Where is it written that one must be respectful to pregnant women?
Being respectful to elders, yes, they can’t help it getting older, but pregnant women ... why must we be respectful? They’re not dying, they’re not even sick, they’re just expecting a baby.

Pregnancy is a temporary condition. Some got that way by accident (and in this day and age that is just irresponsible), or it was planned, in which case they knew what they were getting in to. Heck in some cases, women have been trying to get pregnant for months or years, so why should the universe suddenly revolve around them? They wanted it, now they have it, so let them deal with it.

Why do I sound so ticked off? Because I got into a bit of a tiff with a pregnant woman on the train. I got to a seat first and she felt I should give up my seat to her. Euh why? Hairdressers get pregnant and they’re on their feet the whole day. Women who work in stores and get pregnant spent most of their time on their feet. In the olden days, a farmer’s wife helped her husband in the field, sometimes under a boiling hot sun. So why should I give up my seat to pregnant woman for a twenty minute train ride?

She felt she deserved respect. Respect? Respect for what? Getting herself pregnant? In my opinion that does not deserve respect. What did she do that was so special, unselfish or heroic? She had sex, what’s so special about that? That is, unless she managed to get into a position even Cirque the Soleil performers have trouble with.

Eventually she got a seat and if she had anything else to say I didn’t hear it because I put my music on with headphones. If she wanted to prattle on, I wouldn’t hear it.

Apparently though she wasn’t finished with me. While leaving the train she wanted her revenge and shoved me. A gutsy move on her part I might add as she was a short little twerp and I’m a 5 feet 10 inches giant.
Well, the shove was a mistake. When she tried to get away, I went into hot pursuit.

And I got her, I had to practically run to keep up with her, and climb several sets of stairs (she obviously had no problem with her pregnancy now), but I got her and I let her have it. No, I didn’t lay a hand on her, I’m not that stupid, but I gave her a tongue lashing she won’t forget in a hurry.

She quickly slipped beyond the barricades of the train station where I couldn’t follow her. Well, I could have followed her but then I would have had to pay again to continue my journey. She wasn’t worth it, so I left it at that. But she will remember me and I certainly will remember her.

If there’s one thing that ticks me off (other than pregnant women) is people who demand respect. In my opinion respect has to be earned, it doesn’t come automatically and you certainly don’t get it from me because you happen to be pregnant. Like I said, what is there to be respectful about?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor ...


Love thy neighbor the good book says. Yeah well, right now I don’t feel much love for my neighbor, in fact, if I could get my hands on him I could lovingly throw him a good beating. This guy is a major pain in the you know where.

A few weeks ago soapy water was flooding our balcony. No the water did not come from the heavens above, it came from the balcony of my upstairs neighbor.
We called the superintendent of our building, he came to have a look and agreed that this had to be stopped. He went to have a word with the upstairs neighbor.

A week later it was the same thing, only now it wasn’t soapy water, it was water heavily laced with bleach. Again we called the superintendent and he again went upstairs.

The result of this soapy and bleach episode was that all my balcony flowers died. Are you surprised? Being ‘watered’ with soap and bleach wasn’t exactly good for their health.

Tonight the watering started again, the water stinking of bleach I might add. When I called the super he refused to do anything about it, said to call the office in the morning as this was not an emergency.

Okay, an emergency it is not, but is he allowed to dump his waste water on our balcony? Maybe I should do the same and see how my downstairs neighbor feel about it.

Talking to the guy doesn’t help. I went up there once and he told me to !@#$ off. Kind a hard to love a neighbor like that, isn’t it?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Condo Viewing

They say that what’s on the inside is far more important than what’s on the outside. Does that just apply to people or to condos as well?

Yesterday we started actively looking for a new place to live and as luck would have it, the first condo we saw was perfect. Well, no, not really perfect, it had a few flaws.

For one, the building is nothing to look at. Once upon a long time ago it may have been a nice building, but its glory days are long gone. It still presents well though ... a rustic lobby; quiet, clean, well maintained corridors, new carpets, even the doors to the condos were beautiful.

The condo we viewed used to belong to a single lady who recently passed away. The moment the door opened I could tell that this was a lady’s residence ... super clean and well maintained with feminine touches everywhere. The furniture, the lamps, paintings, decorations, chandeliers and curtains ... she had created more than just a place to live, she had created a home. It was sort of love at first sight.

If this condo had been on the inside of a new high rise downtown Toronto, buyers would fall over themselves to get their hands on it. Unfortunately it isn’t, the building is old and in Scarborough. What’s worse, with bladdering paint on the balconies it's showing signs of age.

There are other down points too: no air-conditioning (we would have to buy our own units for the living room and bedrooms) and no private washer and dryer (we would have to use the shared machines on the ground floor). In addition the condo hasn’t got much of a view.

You might think that a view is not very important, but if you’re used to being able to see for miles and miles, including the skyline of Toronto, a condo overlooking a parking lot is something to get used to.

Still, it is a beautiful condo, for a very good price.

Is our search over before it even began, or does it continue?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Flooded?


“This is Colette from the management office at 301 Prudential Drive. There is a flood in your unit and we need to get in. If we can’t get in we might have to break the door down. Please call me back as soon as possible. This is an emergency.”

This is the voice mail message I found on my cell phone yesterday when I came back from lunch time and as you can imagine, I flipped. A flood in our condo! Breaking the door down! I immediately called Colette back and ... got the management’s office’s voice mail.  I called back five minutes later and ... got the voice mail again.

Fortunately the message gave a number in case of an emergency and since Colette had mentioned that this was an emergency I saw no reason why I couldn’t use that number.

I quickly explained the situation to the woman who answered the phone and through some ‘back door’ she got hold of Colette. Naturally I stressed that my door was not to be broken down. We would leave work immediately and we would be home as a.s.a.p.

I had already alerted Dieter of the situation and like two bats from hell we flew out of our office. Once outside we hailed a cab, jumped in, gave the cab driver our address and told him to ‘step on it’.

We soon found out that ‘stepping on it’ only works in movies, in real life there were cars, cars and more cars blocking our way and annoying things like speed limits. In other words, it took forever to get out of the downtown core but eventually we got onto the highway. Great, now the cab driver would be able to ‘step on it’.

Euh, wrong, there was an accident on the highway and traffic looked like a parking lot. So we left the highway and took the regular road. The regular road was far from ideal though. In addition to slow moving cars, we had to deal with traffic lights, traffic lights and more traffic lights.

Finally, finally we got home. We took the elevator up and before the door was fully open we were already out. In Olympic sprint style we ran to our unit and wondered what we would find on the other side of the front door. I fully expected to find my bedroom rugs floating in the living room.

We opened the door and ... saw Charlie, Mickey and Charlotte who very obviously had just woken up and Chanel who was still asleep on top of the fridge. They meowed a hello and seemed totally at ease. I rushed to my bedroom, thinking the flood was maybe there and found Gabriel asleep on the windowsill. Where exactly was this flood? What exactly was the emergency? What was the reason they would have broken the door down for?

When I called the superintendent he knew about the ‘flood’, our downstairs neighbors had called him because they found water trickling into their bedroom. He would be up to see us shortly.
I waited half an hour and when the super didn’t show up I called him again. He stated that he couldn’t come up because he was waiting for the plumber. He would come to our unit as soon as the plumber arrived.

Eventually at 6:45 p.m. there was a knock on the door ... the super and the plumber. They went to have a look at the A/C system in my bedroom, found a blockage in one of the pipes, which apparently caused a bit of a leak. Don’t ask me what the plumber did, but ten minutes later everything was fixed.

Strange, isn’t it, that we had to leave work in a rush at 2:00 p.m. and spent $50 on a cab ride, only for the plumber to show up at 6:45 p.m.
Anyway, all is well that ends well. I suppose we should be thankful that there wasn’t a real leak, with real damage.

In January 2009 we actually had a real flood. It happened late one night. I was still up when I heard, what I thought was, one of the cats peeing in the litter box. The release of water kept going and going and I remember thinking ‘Jeez, but that cat pees long’.

When I went to check there was no cat in the litter box, but I did see water seeping through the air vent of the ceiling. Within minutes the seeping water turned into a wild gushing. I mean, the water come down the ceiling, down the walls ... there was just water everywhere.

We tried to mop up the mess but it was no use. At the time we really were ankle deep in water. In the end the superintendent came with the assistant superintendent and two giant machines resembling vacuum cleaners. The machines were designed to suck up water and did a marvelous job. Half an hour later all the floors were perfectly dry again. We later learned that a pipe had broken on the floor above us.

So, nothing quite as severe this time. No broken pipe, just a blocked A/C pipe causing a bit of trouble. Damn Colette, some people can turn a molehill into a mountain.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What Do You Need To Get A Job?

The only thing you need to find a job ... is another job.

In the ten months that I was unemployed I must have sent off close to 100 resumes, registered with at least 15 agencies, was a daily visitor on www.workopolis.com and www.monster.com, visited numerous company and agency websites and stayed in touch with employment agency consultants. All for nothing.

Now that I have a job, now suddenly the job offers come out of the woodwork. In three days I received no less than four offers.
I turned them down. You know what they say about rather having one bird in the hand than two in the bush.

Years ago I was in a similar situation. I had a great job and received a job offer for more money, a lot more money. I made the move and came to regret it.

Not only was the work boring and the boss a real jerk, the location was the pits and you know what they say ... location, location, location.

So in this case I decided to stick to the job that I have, take it day by day and see what happens. I’m happy where I am, so why change?
There is a lot to learn, so there is a fair amount of stress, but I’m coping. Today for the first time I actually had a good day with a minimum on hassles.

Well, it was a good day, right up until 4:00 p.m.
I was near the completion of a particular job, hit the wrong button on my keyboard and lost all my work. I nearly flipped. All that work for nothing. Now I have to start all over again tomorrow. Fortunately the prep work has been done, so the second time around shouldn’t take too long.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Expendables

I don’t really like going to the movies, but for Sylvester Stallone I make an exception.

Any movie that he wrote, directed or starred in is bound to be good and has to be seen on the big screen.

For his latest creation, he called upon a bunch of other trouble makers of various ages, colors and sizes and called it ‘The Expendables’. The result is an action packed story with lots of fighting, guns and explosions. I mean really, the stunt coordinators and special effects department must have had a ball.

The movie captured attention right from the start and managed to hold it. No lovey dovey stuff, no endless dialogue, just violence, violence and more violence. But good violence. And the guns ... impressive doesn’t really begin to describe it.

In ‘The Expendables’ Stallone shows how to deal with the Somalia pirates. If reality followed Stallone’s example how to deal with pirates, they would think twice about hijacking any more ships.

As for the rest of Stallone methods on how to deal with drugs, revolution etc. ... maybe we should make him the head of the military and send him the middle east, things would be zipped up and buttoned down in no time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Was yesterday national boob day?


My goodness but the ladies were showing off their assets yesterday. Young and old, big and small, perky optimistic and very depressed looking boobs, they were all on show.

Perhaps you think it’s strange that I, as a woman, notice these things. Well, actually, I didn’t, at first. But then I got on the subway train and even though a number of seats were available, a lot of men preferred to stand.

Why were they standing when they could sit down? Where they stretching their legs in preparation of hours of sitting? Were they gallant for future female passengers? No, they weren’t, they were enjoying the view.

Yes, that’s when I noticed it too. Two double D-cup women were sitting down, wearing something that displayed a lot, and I do mean a lot, of cleavage. The men were grouped around these two like flies around a pot of jam.

The women wore office attire, so they were obviously on their way to work. Women like that make me wonder if they know anything about office etiquette. A lot has been said and written about what to wear and what not to wear to work. Surely they know that such low cut tops are not appropriate office wear.

Which makes me wonder about the men these women work with ... can the men concentrate on their jobs with such ‘distractions’?
For their sake I hope those men aren’t engineers (making precision calculations), high rise window washers (from the outside looking in) or operators of band saws (ouch).

In turn I wonder about sexual harassment in the workplace. If some ladies are on the receiving end of glares, stares, brush ups, wolf whistles or something a little less subtle, can you blame the men?

Monday, August 16, 2010

First day on the job

After being unemployed for ten months and staying up until 3:00 a.m. each night, I was more than a little nervous about going to bed last night. I figured I would lay awake half the night.
The knowledge that my alarm would go off at 5:30 and I would have to get up with only a few hours of sleep, if any, make me even more nervous.

Yet this was not the case.

I preparation for my first early night, I had made myself a cup of extra strong chamomile tea (two teabags in one cup).
The results were satisfactory. By the time I went to bed, shortly after eleven, I was sort of tired and by some miracle I fell asleep within fifteen minutes.

When the alarm went off this morning, I felt fine. I didn’t exactly leap out of bed, but I didn’t crawl out either. It was all much better than expected.

My first day on the job was filled with new experiences. Lots of new people to meet and places to find. The set up of the offices is a true labyrinth, it’s gonna take weeks before I knew my way around.

Everything looks promising though. Good location, friendly people, nice work ... I think this will be alright.
The pay could be a bit better but okay, maybe I can do something about that in the future.

On a different note ... we went to see the bank manager today.
Remember the plans to sell our condo? Well, as it turns out we qualify for a mortgage and as such we’re no longer looking for a place to rent. Now we’re looking for a place to buy.

Stay tuned for updates.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Insomnia

For the first time in years, I’ve stayed awake on a Sunday afternoon.

I’m a notorious napper. Most weekends I have the best of intentions to stay awake in the afternoon and do something useful, but after lunch I usually feel so tired I have to go down for a nap.
When I do, I’m off to zzzzzzzz-land in minutes.

It’s quite different at night. I only go to bed when I’m tired, very tired, falling over – can’t keep my eyes open tired. The moment I get into bed though, I’m wide awake.
Then I lay there, staring at the ceiling, waiting for the sandman to come. Sometimes he comes within the hour, sometimes he doesn’t show up until first light.

So no nap for me this afternoon. I want to be properly tired for tonight.

As long as I was unemployed and spent my days at home, this was not a problem, I didn’t have to get up in the morning, but now that has changed. As from tomorrow morning I have to get up at 5:30 a.m. I can no longer afford to stay up until all hours of the night and then to wait until it’s convenient for the sandman to show up. Can you imagine dozing off at 5:00 and having to get up at 5:30?

I briefly considered getting a sleeping aid, but after reading up about those pills on the Internet, I think I’ll pass. I’ll just make myself a cup of strong chamomile tea and hope for the best.

It’s not easy being a night owl.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Talking with Tom Cruise


Saturday is bowling day.
Dieter did beautifully.
He played: 191 – 194 – 194 – 211 – 175.
My scores ... oh, let’s not go there. Suffice to say that I finished on a high note ... 200 on the dot.

Where it comes to gambling I was kind of hopeful that I would win big this weekend, either on Friday with Max Millions or today with Lotto 649, but except for two free tickets, I won nothing. 

Excuse me for being hopeful, but take a look at my horoscope for yesterday. Now wouldn't you be hopeful too?

Expect some great news regarding money, possibly professional advancement. You may have to control the urge to break into tears of joy, Gemini. A female friend could be going through some heavy changes and might want your support. Your best course of action would be to listen rather than offer advice. You may have to try hard to control yourself, however. The situation could defy all reason.

As I’m a little short of inspiration today, I would like to tell you about an embarrassing experience at work a couple of years ago. It involves Tom Cruise, but that’s all I’m gonna say. If you want to know more, here’s the link:

http://www.helium.com/items/1351577-embarrassing-moments

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Are breasts important while job hunting?


Goodbye to Workopolis, goodbye to Monster, goodbye to so many job sites I frequented on a daily basis over the past few months.
I won’t be visiting anymore because I found a job. It’s not exactly my dream job, but as everyone keeps telling me, it’s better than nothing.

Better than nothing yes, but it is a shame that experienced staff has to settle for less, while young dolly birds get the good jobs.

You might have heard that looks are not important while job hunting. Forget it, they are important. I recently wrote an article on the subject, so instead of repeating myself, the article can be found here:

http://www.helium.com/items/1211930-job-hunting

By the same token, they same that honesty is important. I disagree on that too.
In 2008 I worked with someone, let’s call her Samantha, who blatantly cheated on her time sheet. We were both temps, but while I recorded my working hours accurately, she added 2 to 5 hours per week to her time sheet.

As I worked for the accounts department at the time, I picked up on the fraud and pointed it out to the financial director. Nothing was done about it.

I spoke to the temp on the subject too and asked her to stop.
“No way,” she said, “the sooner I have my 500 hours, the sooner I will qualify to be hired full-time.”

To cut a long story short, the financial director knew about her deceit, HR knew about it and the agency Samantha worked for knew about it too. All of them closed their eyes to the fraudulent time sheet.

Then the day came that I met Samantha. So far we had only spoken on the phone and communicated via email, but during a lunch meeting I met her face to face.
And suddenly all became clear. Truth be told her face was not the first thing I noticed, her breasts were.
Excuse me, but they were hard to miss. Forget double D, they were at least triple D.

They were fully covered by a turtleneck sweater, but the sweater was so tight, nothing was left to the imagination. As were the leggings she wore that day. Skintight, revealing every curve of her size 12 voluptuous body.

I suddenly understood why the manager who signed his approval on Samantha’s time sheet didn’t see the extra hours she declared … he was too busy looking at other ‘things’.

I don't have such 'things', at least not such big 'things', so I guess I'll have to be happy with any type of job I can get.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Night - Bowling Night


Tuesday night, bowling night. And a good night it was. See for yourself.

Dieter : 209 - 150 - 192 = 551(average 183.6)

Me      : 182 - 174 - 180 = 536 (average 178.6)

I was very pleased.


When we came home the cats got their dinner, we had some dinner, we watched an episode of ‘Castle’ and then ... then the moment we had been dreading came ... giving Gabriel his eye ointment.

Earlier in the day I had tried sneaking up on him while he was sleeping, but the little bugger saw me coming with the tube and legged it where I couldn’t follow him, under my bed.

Tonight we made it a two man job. Dieter held Gabriel and I approached from behind. Gabriel is smart, but I’m smarter.
There was some wiggling and squirming, but I managed to get the ointment in his eye.

His eye already looks a lot better. There is no more redness and the swelling is gone.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A visit to the vet


Have you ever tried given a cat medication? If you have you know what a battle it can be.

Gabriel has an eye infection and even though some type of human eye medication was recommended to me to treat the condition, I rather played it safe and took him to the vet.

In his carrier, in the cab, he cried all the way there. At home he hardly says a ‘word’ but now he recited a whole dictionary.

At the vet Gabriel turned into a little angel. He didn’t mind being examined and he didn’t protest one little bit when the doctor put the ointment in his eye.

I thought administering the ointment myself was going to be a breeze. Yeah right.

When I tried to put the medication in his eye, he wiggled and squirmed, kicked and slapped me and generally turned into a little lion that wouldn’t be tamed.

He’s supposed to get that medication three times a day for the next seven days. Perhaps the vet should have sent a team of nurses along to help me with this task.

I’ll try again when he’s sleeping. Maybe I’ll have better luck then.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Can real estate agents read?

We had some excitement this morning.

While having breakfast I suddenly heard the sound of dripping water on the balcony. Was it raining? No, it was our upstairs neighbor’s balcony leaking water for some reason.

This has happened before, but not as severe as this morning. On previous occasions there was just a bit of dripping of water. At the time I thought our neighbor was watering his plants and our balcony was the recipient of a little excess.

This morning it was quite different. The dripping changed into pouring and what pooled on the balcony floor wasn’t clear, but soapy water. To the best of my knowledge nobody tends to their flowers with soap and water. Within no time my balcony flowers were ‘knee deep’ in the soapy stuff and it was time to do something.

I considered going upstairs and asking my neighbor what was going on, when I remembered going up there to ask him to stop banging on the walls at all hours of the day.
His reply at the time was ‘Shut up’, followed by slamming the door in my face.

So, this time I played it smart ... I called the superintendent of our building and he could take care of the soapy problem.

The super took one look at the flooded balcony and went straight upstairs. Minutes later the downpour stopped.
Problem solved. No idea what caused it though.


As for an update on the real estate problem ... I'm wondering about estate agents' intelligence.

Now that we are in the market for a new place to live, I went on the Remax and Centure 21 websites and completed their little questionnaire regarding what kind of new property we are looking for.

I selected condos, townhouses, lofts and houses as possibilities, with the must have of: A/C, close to public transportation and pets allowed. Within 24 hours a representative of Century 21 sent me a message with two possible condos he found.
Both of them had no A/C, were miles away from public transportation and had a no pets allowed policy.

Makes you kind of wonder, doesn’t it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Moving time



Well, the shit has hit the fan. The real estate shit that is. We’re gonna have to move soon.

I got a call from our landlord this morning, announcing that he is planning on selling our condo. We’re just having no luck.

Ten years ago we came to the building and moved in in unit 504. A little over a year later the landlord sold the place.

In the same building we moved to unit 402. A little over a year later the landlord sold the place.

From there we moved, still in the same building, to unit 502. A little over a year later the landlord ... you guessed it, sold the place.

That’s when we moved into the unit we are in now. In this unit we’ve been for about 6 years, but now, now it’s selling time again.

Damn it and we just recently fixed the place up. We painted everywhere and modernized the kitchen.

The building is far from ideal, but over the years it’s become home.

It also has a very convenient location. Within walking distance of the subway station, close to stores, close to the bowling alley and everything else we need.

It’s not moving that worries me, it’s the price of rental units. At the price we’re renting now, we’ll never find anything similar.

We’re considering buying the place, that way we’ll never have to move again, but do we really want to do that? Over the years the quality of residents in this building has gone down and the management and Board of Directors are far from ideal.

Along with the downsides, the building does have some good points. The units are large and the balconies are enormous.
We’ve seen other condos in the past and my goodness, in comparison those are shoeboxes.

What will the future bring? The real estate future that is.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My first e.book



Beautiful, isn’t it? And they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

This is not the type of book I usually buy, my favorite authors are: Maeve Binchy, Sheila O’Flanagan, Marian Keyes, Penny Vinchenzi, Santa Montefiore, Joy Fielding, Erica James, Maureen Lee, Janet Evanovitch and Dan Brown, but since I am switching to e.books to read on the iPad I wanted to try something.

Plus, I got a promotional email from Kobo today, advertizing books for as little as 99 cents. I have to admit, I love a bargain, so this was an offer I couldn’t pass up.

So far so good, the story is a little old fashioned, but it’s entertaining enough.
Plus I have an interview at 12:00 on Monday and a doctor’s appointment at 2:00, so I need something to read on the train and in the waiting room.

Reading on the iPad is quite nice.
The reader has a choice in displaying the book pages in white, cream or black. I prefer cream, softer on the eyes than white. The reader also has the option of different types of font sizes. Nice as even with bifocals I have trouble seeing small letters.

That’s not all I use the iPad for of course, but that’s a story for another day.

For now I leave you with a story of a time when I was a complete idiot. I mean, you have to read it to believe it ... http://www.helium.com/items/1353582-janet-evanovich

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good bowling



Today being Tuesday we went bowling tonight.

Dieter: 199 – 163 – 134
Me: 213 – 157 – 178

I did pretty good hu.
I was a little ticked off though. In the first game I left the 10th frame open. If I had closed it I could have had a 223 or even a 233.
Still, I was very pleased.

On a different note ... the court case that was to be (re. the A/C in our condo) is not to be. Dieter asked me not to go through with it.

I got notified today that the court date is set for August 20 (small claims court) but Dieter thinks it’s too risky.

The future of our condo hangs in the balance as it is (landlord wants to change management companies) and with this complaint, he might just want to sell.

I agreed because quite frankly I don’t want to be blamed. Suppose the landlord wants to sell, then it will always be a case of ... what if we hadn’t complained?

As Dieter said, it’s not the landlord’s fault or our management’s company’s fault that the A/C malfunctioned, it’s the management of this building’s fault and its Board of Directors.

I can see his point, so I agreed.
But as I said to him ... this is exactly why people put up with all kinds of shit, fear.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A resolution for August

I’m taking a break.

My goal this month is to write three article per day. This may seem easy to you, but judging by past experiences this will be tough for me.
Some days I manage two or three articles per day, most days I only manage one.

Too many things get in the way: sleeping, emails, looking at job sites and applying for positions, commenting on forums, spending time on Facebook, tending to my farm on Farmville, tending to my garage at Car Town ... you know what I mean. Playing is nicer than working.

I also lose a lot of time looking for suitable titles to write to. If I had titles all mapped out for me, that would definitely save time.

Gosh what did I ever do before the computer and especially the Internet came along? I remember those days, I was bored.
I would wander through the house, looking for something to do.

I remember knitting, I knitted one sweater after another. I remember crocheting, needle pointing and even doing some bead work. It’s a good thing I lost interest in that, because my eyes aren’t anymore what they used to be.

And then I got my first computer and everything changed. How long ago? Well, let me put it this way. The boy in the picture is Dieter and he is thirty now.



I was so pleased with my new friend. I even wrote an article about him.

http://www.helium.com/items/1710827-unlikely-friendships

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Gabriel

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
With the A/C back on and the cooler temperatures in general, there’s nothing left to moan and groan about. In fact, I was downright cold yesterday. I had goosebumps.
If only the A/C had broken down now, now that we don’t need cooling.

So with nothing left to complain about, let’s concentrate on the cat family. My little boy, Gabriel, turns two tomorrow.
It seems like yesterday that I picked him up. A tiny ball of fluff. He was such a little angel. Hence the name.

Gabriel as a kitten



Gabriel today



For his birthday he got a little present ... a mouse. He plays with the thing so much, biting it, clawing it, throwing it around that this is actually his fourth mouse. Take a look at the before and after shot.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A bit psychic?

Am I getting a bit psychic?

On my way to the bowling, I’m standing in the bus today and I’m thinking “If this bus had to brake really hard for something, I wonder how much we would all be thrown forward?”

Within the next minute to bus had to break hard for a car and we were all thrown forward. How do you like that?

Even though I was holding on to the rail, I was knocked off balance and reached out for ... anything. (Which happened to be one of the side windows).

I came very close to landing on a woman’s bosom thought. An enormous bosom I might add. I small cat could have slept there.

Today being Tuesday, we went bowling tonight. Our scores were rather weird:

Dieter: 183 – 185 – 135
Me : 176 – 135 – 185

Strange hu.
As always, good fun though.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is there a professional bias against Danica Patrick?

If there is a professional bias against Danica Patrick, she has no one but herself to blame.  On the one hand Ms. Patrick wants to be respected as a professional driver, but on the other hand she continuously sabotages her own career by posing seductively in sleazy outfits, casting a surreptitious glance at the camera.
Various sport stars endorse the products of their sponsors, but the majority does so in a classy, sophisticate and often humorous way.
As a connoisseur of healthy foods, Tony Stewart encouraged the viewing audience to eat healthier by promoting Subway sandwiches.  Jeff Gordon drew attention to Pepsi; while Jimmy Johnson did his bit for Gillette shaving razor blades.
The difference between the men doing these commercials and Danica Patrick promoting her sponsors is that the men kept their clothes on.
If Ms. Pattick wants to be on the same level with these drivers, she has to stop parading around in her barely there knickers and push-up bra.  She may also want to reconsider being coifed and made-up like a porn star.
Simona De Silvestro is an Indy car driver too and is first and foremost a professional driver.  When photographed she is wearing her fire suit bearing the names of her sponsors or a respectable outfit.
Voted among the ten most beautiful female sport stars are Maria Sharapovain tennis, Michelle Sung Wie in golf and Kari Traa in skiing.  All these women have promoted their sponsor's products, but none of them sink as low as Danica Patrick does.
As for driving talent, let’s have a look at the current Indy car series.  All drivers race Honda engines, with a Dallara chassis and FS tires.  Yet while Dario Franchitti leads with 246 points, Danica Patrick trails along in 11th position with a mere 158 points. 
When trying her hand at NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, Ms. Patrick didn’t do much better.  Ranked 66th she is 1958 points behind the leader.  In the first race she crashed her car, in the second race she finished but was several laps down, in the third race she again crashed her car.
What Ms. Patrick lacks in talent she makes up for in attitude.  She has been known to throwing tantrums, including yelling at her pit crew, throwing her helmet around and stomping off to her trailer.  In short, a driver sports fans love to hate.
Perhaps if Ms. Patrick concentrated more on driving and less on publicity she would get some respect from her fellow drivers and the public alike.  Even is Ms. Patrick doesn’t win a race, is it too much too expect that she actually captures or pole position or leads a couple of laps?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, the following are worth a whole dictionary.



Danica Patrick



Jeff Gordon (NASCAR Champion)



Danica Patrick



Jimmy Johnson (NASCAR Champion)



Danica Patrick



Tony Stewart (NASCAR Champion)




Sunday, July 25, 2010

To bowl or not to bowl ...

It would appear that if I’m not moaning about one air-conditioner, I’m moaning about another.

Today being Sunday, we set off for All Star Bowl at 11:30 as we do every Sunday.

The moment I walked in I could feel that the air-conditioner was not on. It has been like that in the past and it absolutely infuriates me.

The staff has to work and run around in the alley and moans that the environment is too hot for them, but it is even worse for the bowlers.

You try chucking a 14 pound (6.3 kg) ball down a 62 feet (19 meters) lane a couple of times, see how you feel.

Anyway, since the side door was open and we had come all the way, we decided to have a couple of games.

Halfway in the first game I saw Luba, one of the daughters of the owner of the alley, walking in and switch on the air-conditioner.

See this really ticks me off. When Luba, or one of the other members of the family are in the bowling alley, the air-conditioner gets switched on. When it’s just the staff and the bowlers, they have to cope with the heat. Why can’t the A/C be on all the time?

After three games we had to give up. Even with A/C it was too hot. Too bad really because we started off really good: 175 for Dieter, 172 for me.

And the heat isn’t the only problem, the lanes are far from perfect. Sometimes the lanes are bone dry, sometimes they are drenched in oil. As for the machines ... sometimes a ball comes back, sometimes he doesn’t.

In an attempt to fix some of the problems, management hired ‘experts’ to come and have a look at things. The machine of lane 1 was taken apart and the bits and pieces were all over the lane. It was quite funny as it looked like they were having a sale.
Not so funny was seeing the experts at work ...





One guy was looking at the bits and pieces like he didn't have a clue how to put things back together again. The other walked up and down the lane, looking at things, but didn't pick anything up. Three weeks the lane was like that.

Were they waiting for a part or were they waiting for their fairy godmother to wave her wand and say "Bibbedi babbedi boo," so everything would magically fly into place.

This is what happens when people, who are not bowlers themselves run a bowling alley ... it’s a slippery slope and the only way is down.

Maybe it’s time to look for another bowling alley.