Monday, December 28, 2009

2nd French Mark Is In.

I wasn't sure what my mark was going to be after the exam. I figured I needed an A on the exam to pull my mark up to a B+ and I hoped that I could get a B final if I got a B on the exam. Of course there are so many other factors it's hard to know that kind of thing for certain. For example I don't know if the teach is going to give me full marks in homework, I did 90% of the homework, is she strict, did she accept my excuses, or maybe I actually submitted more homework than anyone else and she gives those marks away on a scale. Then there are other areas of the course that I can apply to the same questions to, lab work and class participation for example. So to cut to the chase I thought I might be in the B range on the exam which would put my mark up in the air. I checked yesterday and it was a B!

So now I have a B+ and a B, again since this is a language course the mean means 76-79 and the B+ means 8--84, or something similar. They bump the grade letter down since they consider language to be easier than other subjects I suppose. Having a degree in Philosophy and English and a couple technical certificates I do not agree. In any case I am very pleased with the B. I want a B or B+ average and it looks like I'm on my way to getting that.

I was going to write more on other subjects but of course money makes our most important decisions for us so I'll restict my comments to saying that I would like to congratulate Distributel for receiving an A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Final Exam Course 2 Tomorrow

So I should be studying but I've 21 hours till the exam and figure I've got some time to waste.

I suppose the CRTC is a bit perturbed this morning. Tony Clement ruled against them, pushing the CRTC one step closer to non-existence. I know there's a clause in the Telecommunications Act for the veto but monkey see monkey do. How long till ABC owns our beloved CBC? I doubt that will happen but I do see the CRTC being eliminated. I've had a handful of people ask me to sign a petition to disband it, since the conservative government is backing the destruction of the CRTC I guess there's no point not signing it now. Such a disappointment, I really hope the changes proposed actually happen, based on my personal experience I suspect Canadians are not going to be as happy as they expect to be. Let me illustrate my point, let's say there are two major sellers of cola, Pepsi and Coke, one can of each costs one dollar. Let's say to create competition between the two we allow companies to make and sell other types of cola, now we have RC and PC, both of which are cheaper, both of which taste like shit BTW. Did Coke and Pepsi drop their price to .75 cents a can? I don't know because I stopped drinking coke when I found out the acid was burning my stomach. Anyway good luck to Canada, the future (as it always is) is filled with uncertainty, I hope we all get what we deserve.

Down to 20 hours 50 min till exam time. It is actually fun to learn French, almost everyone is positive about it. It's also frustrating and difficult sometimes but when you catch a phrase you've never understood before it's quite a nice feeling. Just yesterday Kate said 'Si comme tu veux' and I marvelled that I understood it. I remember hearing the phrase from her before but yesterday I was able to translate it. It's a simple phrase I know (it means 'if you want') but it's hard to hear the specific words. It may not be a difficult sentence with difficult words but when all you hear is simmmm naaaa wahhhhh it's hard to know what the hell is going on. So when I heard each word clear from Kate it made me realize that I am making progress. Sometimes it's not quite as uplifting, for months I thought people were saying 'Super grave' to each other and I'm thinking it can't be grave (like grave in English) it must be some other word so one day I asked Ludo, what the hell is super grave. He of course didn't know what I was talking about so I described the context to him from earlier in the day. It's 'Ce n'est pas grave' ('it's not grave' or basically 'everything is cool', 'don't worry about it') he said. People don't pronounce the ne! I remember from my first class in the summer my prof suggesting that the ne in negative sentences will eventually not exist as the language evolves so I know why people say it like that but again it's hard to hear it. It could just as easily been something completely different.

So hearing French is hard, I'm also a very slow speaker. I have to plan everything out before I say it which makes for some challenges. I've been told I have a pretty good accent, especially for someone know to the language. I'm sure it wouldn't take people long to decipher my true nature [insert evil laugh here] but when I do plan out the sentence I guess I don't sound too anglo. When I first arrived I would attempt French and people would tell me they speak English, often poorly but most anglos speak it poorly as well (myself included I'm sure). So we would communicate in broken English. Now I say things to people and respond is long French sentences and I have to interrupt them to tell them I don't understand. People get so apologetic it's funny but it's great! I want people to speak to me in French, not English although I know they want to practice English too. I like seeing how much I can understand and if it's not an important item I'll just nod whilst picking up one in three words.

Kate had one wisdom tooth out yesterday and it was a bit stressful. She was supposed to have two out but this one was near the nerve and ending up taking so much time and energy that they decide to leave the other one. It's in no immediate danger of causing damage to the rest of her teeth. Today she is in bed, working though and while she is swollen it's only one corner of her mouth so I think it's better than it could be. When I had all four out I couldn't eat anything for a week and even then it hurt like a sonofabitch. I would wake up with blood all over my pillow and the drugs made me unconscious for the first three whole days. Kate isn't bleeding I can understand most of what she's saying and she's up and working so I'm pleased with that.

So I've got a lot of crappy studying to do and I better make Kate some soup, down 20 hours 35 min but I've got a system and I know a couple of the things on the test. Like congegate some verb in every tense. We've learned 7 and some verbs like avoir and etre do not like to follow the general rules I like to call them the rebel verbs, faire is in there too but aller is a bit of a poser and tends to hang out by itself. And then there are a few other odd balls like pouvoir and savoir, or some have tiny little rules like appeler, sometimes there are two ls sometimes one, or sometimes the accents change. Il faut que j'etudie maintenent, a bientot.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Going Ons

Not too much new too write about. I've found new gym locations downtown and now that my cough is better I'm going back to the gym after a couple weeks off. The new gym, right on St. Catherine, is small but it was empty in the morning last week so that works for me. I also went to a gym near Kate's work, which was bigger but further away, and it's right beside a food court full of suits so I'll probably stick to the St. Catherine's gym.

I'm actually the same weight now as when I started but I like to think I'm adding muscle while I lose fat, and I've never been concerned with my weight anyway. Kate has also started driving us down a food path that avoid meat. We still eat meat of course but we try to restrict the frequency of our meat ingestion. It's mainly for health reasons, I know we don't need to eat meat every day if we replace the protein and as long as we're not cutting it out completely we shouldn't need to worry to much about things like iron intake although we still do to a small degree. It also gives Kate an opportunity to try out difficult dishes, it's hard to make something taste good without that delicious substance call animal fat but of course Kate is very successful.

As much as the decision to cut back on our meat intake is for health reasons I must admit that I often feel bad about the treatment of animals in the food production sector. I think some of the things that people say are exaggerated. It's a proven tactic to convince people of things; exaggerate the hell out of it. Still there is some truth in it as well. Some of the points made I think either don't really matter or are just untrue but there is no denying that there are a lot of people on the planet to feed, a lot of money to make doing it and as always the lowest end of the totem pole gets the worst of it, in this case the animals. It's also expensive to buy humanly treated meat, many places don't even sell it too, but if you're not eating it every day the price is moot. I don't mean to preach either and when I go down to Texas this month I intend to consume large amounts of meat. It's just surprisingly easy to cut meat back in your diet. We eat it maybe 2-3 times a week from 7 times a week and I barely noticed. Of course it helps to have a young Julia Childs cooking for you. I think Kate is like the MacGyver of cooking, if MacGyver had a sidekick that ran out and got all the missing parts of whatever it is that he was making out of a paper clip and cigarette butt that week, that of course is my job.

I'm reading a great book, it combines my two favorite genre's of book: 18th century fiction, although I'm more partial to Poe, Hawthorne, Irving rather than Jane Austen, and zombies. The book is called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It's basically Pride and Prejudice but with the added factor of zombies, quite funny, quite entertaining. I hear there is also Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters which I will look for. The book is written in the style I enjoy reading but instead of boring topics, like marriage and gentlemanly conduct, this book covers such topics as marriage to zombies, and gentlemanly conduct in regards to the dispatching of zombies. I love that everyone else loves zombies now as much as I always have. The early Romero movies are one among those memories that I cannot remember not having, like I don't remember the first time I ate chocolate, I also don't remember the first time I watched Night of the Living Dead. I guess that's some insight into the reasons behind my constant desire to protect my brain from the teeth of those around me.

I joined a flag football team. My shoulder seems to be completely healed after a suspected rotator cuff injury. I'm not the Quarterback so I shouldn't be aggravating it if it isn't completely healed. The season starts in January. I went to a practice last week to sort of try out for the team. They want to make sure you don't suck and that you're not a jerk so I guess I was a shoe in but of course I was still a bit nervous. The only other guy I know on the team, the guy who hooked me up with the team, Mitch, wasn't at the practice so it was me and a bunch of people I don't know. At the end while I was considering the QB said he'd like it if I played so it was an easy decision. I don't know what position I'll play, probably a receiver but maybe defense, I'm fine with any position of course, and from what I hear there may be a couple games we have to play ironman, both sides of the ball. It should be good exercise and maybe I can score a couple touchdowns this season. I played 3years of football and 4 years of rugby in high school. I never started in football and I started maybe half the games in rugby. I never had the joy of scoring a touchdown playing football, once I was talked inside the 5 on a 40 yard deep pass, but never in the endzone. I have no idea how many trys I scored in Rugby over the years, somewhere between 15-20 I suspect including 3 in one game once and twice in a 7 aside game. Anyway I'm hoping to make up for some lost scoring in this league. People take it pretty seriously so it should be good. I'm pretty excited to play actually, I never though I would be memorizing plays again.

Well I best get to my French, I have an oral on Tuesday and my final on Saturday.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Habitat For Humanity

So I've been twice so far. They have a couple PCs which I've worked on a bit and I'll do more on when I get a blank CD. The rest of the time I'm testing electronic devices, finding out what's broken, labeling it all or pricing things. There are pickups on Tuesday which I'll be able to help out with when this semestre is over. Eventually I hope to try and fix things too, I have no doubt that I'll be able to do pretty much what I want when I'm there.

It's a bit strange, I guess with all volunteer outfits there is a great mix of people. At Habitat there are quite an assortment of characters. I think a few of them, at least one, are there for community service. Not because they did serious things I suspect, the one guy I talked to said it was for traffic tickets. It's really laid back and I come and go as I please so it's pretty good. The time goes by pretty quickly. Some of the guys don't do much and want to talk, which is fine, I don't mind meeting new people. The rest of the time I just find something to do, there's always something.

I got my oral mid-term result finally and despite some negativity about what I had written for it I managed to get an 85%. Now I have another oral on Tuesday and the final exam the Saturday after that. They're really cramming it in there to end the semestre.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Written Test

I haven't got my oral results back, although I am quite sure that I did well on that. I wasn't so sure about my last written test. I had somehow managed to miss an entire section of the chapter when I was studying and I had trouble with a couple other sections. The saving grace was that I thought I did very well on the parts I had prepared for. I thought the mark may be as low as 65ish but it turns out I got a 74 and the teacher actually said to me that it was a good mark. I just thanked her so I'm not sure if she meant it was good compared to other marks or if she saw my holes and considered that I had done well despite them. Either way random encouragement from a teacher is great.

Now I have a quiz on Thursday, it seems there's always some test pending and I only have one class. Others have commented that they have multiple midterms and tests or long papers shortly after the midterms finish, so I suppose I shouldn't complain about a quiz.

A friend of ours from France is living with us and I've impressed him with my ability to understand his conversations. That's encouraging too, that I can actually hear the words is impressive to me considering I knew next to nothing 6 months ago. I can't quite converse, mainly because my thought process is too slow but I'm slowly noticing phrases that I don't bother translating to English in my head so with three classes to go after this one I'm feeling good about my ability to pick up French by the end of next year.

There's a Re-Store 100 meters from our house so I've decided to volunteer there. They need office workers and store workers at the Re-Store, which is also the Montreal office, and they need builders on the weekends. I haven't got a schedule or discussed where they want me but I'm glad to have a chance to learn a bit about building and the various aspects of it. I already know a fair amount from work, friends, and various home projects so hopefully I'll be an asset for them.

The new house is coming along and we had our first get together this weekend past. We had a poker tournament. I don't think I've played poker in two years, it was more fun than I remember it being. Possibly that's because I won 60 bucks.

So that's some of the crap I've done of late, and here's some of the crap I had to hear today:

Q: What do the Raptors, Argos, and Leafs all have in common?
A: None of them can play hockey.

and

Q: Why won't the NHL let Hamilton have a hockey team?
A: Because then Toronto would want one too.

It's hard living behind enemy lines.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oral Exam Over

Well that may have been the easiest exam I've ever taken in my life although I'll wait to see the results before I get too excited. Last semester the oral exams were one on one with the prof. She would ask questions and I would stumble through answers. This time I had to record a story of the past in the lab. We all went as a class and each had a desk. We weren't allowed to bring anything we had written in but I memorized my piece. So the first thing I did when I got in the lab was write out my entire oral. I missed two small parts but they were both only information pieces the gutted sentences still made grammatical sense. I also flipped two sentences but of course that won't matter. So I think I did extremely well except how can it have been that easy?

Maybe my classmates slacked off and didn't memorize anything or prepare in a significant way. I know one guy forgot to do any prep. I feel like I got near perfect although I'm sure there were some tiny errors. I'm more concerned that she'll say the oral was too easy so the next one is back to the one on one which I suck at. Anyway we'll see. I also saw her marking my written exam from last week but she wouldn't give me any hints on how I did so I'll have to wait till Thursday.

Well that's about it, my abs hurt from the gym yesterday and the cats are doing well, rats too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Askipedia And Other Stories

Years ago I started a company with my friend Chris called Askipedia. We had a website that makes money still and we had some fun with it. Then we decided to get serious and start an SMS service which didn't take off quite as well as we had hoped. After running out of money we put it on the back burner. The original website kept on trucking but we weren't really maintaining it. Now we're rekindling the old flame.

Kate has been more than fantastic getting some of the business aspects together that I sorely lack the ability to do, maybe the desire but it amounts to the same thing. Her initiative has made me excited about getting the site moving in a forward direction again.

The site will stay basically the same but we're going to be pushing for people to sign up to be question answers, we still have plenty of people asking. We'll be starting with a contest, details to follow, and we'll be adding a couple items to the web page. Hopefully we'll get the ball rolling and the questions being asked and answered at a regular pace without too much work from us. Then we can invest our time to other improvements to the site.

Askipedia is another topic I will be adding to this blog so check back for more crap about the company and what we're doing with the web site.

Some other notable pieces of information.

I had my third test in french last night, I think I got perfect or close to perfect in some sections and close to zero in other sections. Hopefully it will average out high. I bombed one of the oral sections but I think I actually got perfect on the other oral section. I think it's a good sign that I can at least some of the time listen to people speak in French and understand what's going on. If you ever need someone to translate directions for you, I'm your man.

I have a new workout at the gym but have been quite busy so I've not been going as often as I should. We were in Mississauga/Hamilton this past weekend for a wedding and with renting Halloween costumes for it and then being in a new place that needs work the Gym has been low on the priority list but I am still going. I have noticed a different although I'm not paying too much attention to that, I'm in it for the looks and the strength to beat people up, not the health.

We had Thanksmas this past weekend. We were there for the wedding so it was a good time. Uncle Morris and Aunt Irene were in town for the wedding so they stuck around for it all. It's always good to see them. Hopefully we'll be able to make a trip out west again soon and head down to California to see them. One trip at a time though, it's Texas for us next month.

Doran would not do well in my current apartment. He's got this sick sound system that will pretty much destroy everything you love if you turn it past 16 and he likes to play it on 18. He gets the odd complaint, although they are consistently coming in. I have a standard tv with no extra sound stuff, just the plain old tv speakers. Two days ago Ludo and I are playing Gears of War at a loud volume but we could talk to each other without raising out voices. It was also 6 in the evening. We're playing and I can hear this constant pounding, the guy above us is always making noise so I ignore it as long as I can. Finally I'm sick of it so I pause the game, the pounding stops. This guy is pounding fro us to turn the game down? It's 6pm, it's not really that loud and he's the noisiest person I've ever lived under. I can tell we're not going to get along. He even looks like a doofus. The guy below us seems fine though. He told us that we didn't actually have a parking spot like the landlord said. Turns out he tells everyone in the building there are three spots, one for each apartment, when in fact there are only 2. There are a lot of jerks in the world and it seems like I am their fluorescent light.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Settling In

Well a large portion of our stuff has been put away. Of course we have limited space for our clothes so currently we're using the mountain system. If you haven't used the mountain system I suggest you give it a try at least once. It's really simple. Clean a spot on the floor and pile up all your clean laundry. As you use the clothes create another pile (preferably with a barrier so the two piles don't get mixed) for the dirty laundry. It's much easier to find things as you can see most of your clothes collection at first glance.

Actually I've been without a dresser for about a year. The crappy Ikea device I was using literally fell apart, you really do get what you pay for. We had a number of in closet shelves so we put all our clean clothes there. Now of course we don't have those shelves and I don't have a dresser so we're using the mountain system until we find a better solution. Other than that much has been put away or shoved into a closet for storage.

As you probably know I have two cats right now. One is playful, fun, agile, named after beer and quite the funny character hissing and growling at inappropriate times or humping his sweater and meowing during important conference calls. The other is oddly uncoordinated and quick to anger. The new cat, Jedi, was getting used to the old place, she liked being picked up in the bathroom and she often got excited and clawed at one of our carpets. She had stopped being violent and I hadn't heard her hiss in quite awhile. Moving is quite disruptive for cats and while Brewski usually gets scared and submissive and then once in the new place explorative and happy Jedi gets violent and angry on both ends of the move. When she moved in she stayed in her carrier for a day, then the room the carrier was placed for another day until she finally slowly came out to see her new home. Then a couple weeks later we had to endure a 2 week bout of crazy cat, many people were lunged at and some even cut. This from a normally totally uncoordinated cat, seems she has the coordination when she needs is. This time we expected something similar and in the early goings we had it. Once Jedi was in her carrier she began hissing and trying to slash us from her cage. Poor Ludo almost got hit a couple of times in the truck on the way to the new place.

Jedi continued her normal behaviour at the new place hissing up a storm as I delicately placed her in one of the rooms and shut the door. Shortly after I had setup food and water and a litter so I opened her door and she growled a lot. Later I came to check on her and she was not only out of her cage but searching the room and when she saw me open the door she tried to get out. Not the behaviour we witnessed when she moved in with us. Eventually when the help left I let her out to explore the apartment. She was mildly violent, hissing at us if we tried to pass her, but her sight is weak and it's understandable, giant shapes flying over top of her freaks her out. So each time I had to pass her I got down to her level and let her smell my finger (which was usually clean). Kate's mom was a bit too quick with her I think and got a slash on her leg so we weren't sure what to expect moving forward. Jedi was better than last time but still injuring our guests.

The second day she was totally normal and has been since. She's even sleeping on the same bed as Brewski. So psycho cat has turned into normal cat and we're quite pleased with that, especially since we may very well be moving again in a few short months.

The gym is going well for me, I get out about twice a week so I'll keep the membership. I haven't lost any weight but my back fat is greatly reduced so I presume I'm adding muscle while losing fat.

French is also going well, I can slowly see myself getting it. There are so many little rules and slang and then remembering verbs and how to conjugate them it can often be overwhelming but occasionally I get things right without thinking, they just seem right. Similar to knowing that you say an apple not a apple. You know the rule but it also just seems right one way and not the other. I think some of the french rules are coming to me like that. By the end of next year I hope to be capable of communicating in french sufficiently enough to speak it on a day to day basis. Then we start looking at all the French speaking countries we can spend some time in. Vietnam might be a good one, we can live like kings there!

Speaking of kings I'm going to a Halloween wedding this year. Kate has decided to be Marie Antoinette so I am going as Marie Antoinette's husband, King Louis XVI. Louis XVI was said to be a bit of a lousy king so I'm not sure if I'll be him or Louis XIV, who was a much better king. Perhaps I'll just claim to be the 'King of France' and have some of the young maidens feed me grapes and red wine all night. Either way our costumes are pretty good I think, wigs and everything. The shame is we may need DDs for the wedding and what's the good of being a king at a wedding if I can't drink. If I recall history class correctly I believe the main duty of a king was to keep the wine stocks low, it was a key method for keeping the unemployment rate down.

More to come next week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Loose Ends

So we won the championship in our second baseball season. I think we get crappy t-shirts or something. I was 34-35 going into the final and hit 0-5 in the final game, boo. I played in a football tourney last Saturday and while the team lost all 3 games we played, I scored 2 of our 3 touchdowns. So I can end the sports season on a high note at least. Hopefully I'll be able to get into a football league in January, we will see.

After getting 66 on my first french test of the course I got 76 on my second one. I forgot how hard university is, they actually expect you to learn, in fact they pretty much expect you to learn a lot on your own. They like to throw brand new words on the exam and then ask what it means, so it's not just the language I'm learning but my ability to reason and deduce is also being tested, hardly fair I've got 10 years more wear on my brain than everyone else in the class. The prof makes jokes about her age and how we don't remember things that she grew up with, like Knight Rider and racist Looney Toons episodes. Granted she still older than me and I don't remember the Montreal Expo, but I do remember the 80s! Some of the kids in my class were born in the 90s I think. At least I blend in, looking young like I do. I may get the odd pimple but I have all my hair and I get IDed at least once a month, in Quebec! The drinking age is 18 and I still get IDed! I love it, I get people apologizing to me and they look all embarrassed, it's great. The problem is soon people are going to just assume I have a fake ID.

Speaking of IDs I just remembered I still have to get my Quebec Drivers License so I better make an appointment for that. There's always more crap to do.

Moving Day

Moving day is almost upon us, it's this Saturday. We found a place near Place Saint-Henri Metro. The place itself is nice. Second floor (which sucks for moving in) and very similar to our current place in some ways. If you've seen where we live now the kitchen and dining room are really one big room. We spend a lot of time in it. In fact we spend almost all our time there unless it's Sunday and football is on or I'm playing Xbox, then it's just Kate in the kitchen/dining room and me in the living room. Even the rats live in the dining room. The new place is similar in that it also has a kitchen/dining room, in fact the new place is probably going to be better in the long run. Too bad we hope to only live there for 8 months.

The kitchen/dining room stands to be better because there are more windows. We lose a dishwasher but the one we had sucked anyway. So the trade off is light for a dishwasher, an easy trade in my mind since we only put glasses and plates in the dishwasher and I'm already scrubbing pots and pans every day so what's a couple more cups and utensils. The extra light means the plants will do better, including herbs that Kate likes to use, and of course we need the sunlight as much as the plants do. Plus there's lots of cool wood which I'm hoping makes the place feel more cozy.

The bedroom is huge so we may put the television in there but that has obvious drawbacks. Then we have two other closed rooms, both pretty small. One is fine for a spare bedroom and the other can be storage and a room for the animals, or we can cram the tv into it. We'll decide when we get all our crap inside.

The biggest drawback to the place is that it's not in the Plateau. There are no nice restaurants, no cools bars, no shopping, no giant parks, no bike paths and strange sculptures, at least not that I've found, I will continue that hunt of course. It does have some stuff though, a post office, a pet store, the metro is just as close as the current place, it's got three sad looking bars near us but at least the closest one also seems to be the best, we've got an IGA that's not too far but far enough to not carry home two cases of beer and a bag of cat litter, and we are right beside a small park. Oh yeah and the neighbour's cat just had kittens. So there are some good things of the area but different things. One thing to note is that we'll probably save money by not going out as much, did I mention the beer was 1.50 a pint at one of the bars?

The landlord seems like a good guy and the bathroom is in good condition, the floors are all nice hardwood. Really the place would go for 2,000 a month in Toronto, we've got it for less than 1,000. It's funny we spend 900 to 1,000 in rent each month here and we're considered big spenders. Other than logistical concerns we really have our pick of any place in the city while we're renting.

The plan is to pick up the house hunt when the snow recedes and people can inspect the roof of a potential purchase. Our lease is till July 01, just like everybody else in Montreal. We hope to find a place by then.

So that's not really the crap I wanted to be doing this fall but it's the crap I am doing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Trying To Buy A House

Is freaking annoying. The first place we put an offer in turned out to be a potential money pit. The seller didn't tell us about a huge oil leak which is something the neighbours could sue us for. Then we found a place the bank owned and put an offer in but they countered with a ridiculous counter. We're now putting in a counter offer and the bank's agent is going to tell them to take it but you never know. So it's been difficult and that difficulty has been compounded by us having to vacate our current abode by the end of the month. We're looking at a two week closing date, makes it very difficult. We may end up in a temporary rental unit, which will not be ideal so we're really hoping on this place.

In other segments of my crap, the gym is working out fairly well. I've been a few times and I have a humours id card of me now. The only thing the TVs show in English is CNN so that's not the best but yesterday there was an exhibition women's hockey game so that worked out, ha ha worked out.

I got a horrible 66% on my first french test this semester but I noted that many of the people around me had similar success so at least it's not just me. That's also a sign that I am probably going to be able to pull that mark up. Also a good 10% was lost to stupid mistakes that I should have known. Conjugating a verb improperly, it's je dis, not je dit, crap like that. In fact some of my mistakes are made commonly by French people. Anyway I have another test next week so I aim to improve.

Things are freaking busy, I missed our second last softball game last week because we were supposed to look at houses, that didn't happen but Kate was missing it anyway to go to a poetry slam so I didn't rush to the game for a last minute arrival, I went to the poetry slam instead. It was pretty good. The slams have judging to determine a winner.The judges are just audience members. They are also stupid. Not all of them but some of them. I'm not the greatest judge of poetry but I know what entertains me and I did take a poetry class or two in university. These judges were all over the map, one particular judge would gave scores like 2.7 out of 10. Now even if the poem is that bad this is an environment that pushes for a lot of support. This guy was basically just being a jerk. Then the same guy would give an 8 out of 10 for something that sounded like a 8 year old's attempt at a rap song. Anyway the person who won was one of the best and all they won were cheese curds so it didn't matter much anyway but this clown still annoyed me. We also made a couple friends, sort of, at the place and got info for another poetry event so over all it was a good night. Next Monday we'll have our last softball game so we won't miss that.

So that's some of the crap I've been doing, hopefully there will be more to note soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Joined A Gym

When I started this blog I had a few things in mind. I was going to write this blog, take French, exercise and I felt that I was going to lose one of them. It was the exercise of course. Who wants to spend summer running and swimming when you can spent it on patios drinking beer? Not me. So I decided to join a Gym. I have some free time during the day and I work right near a chain gym and can go on weekends to one on the island. I think once I pay and can exercise without worrying about the elements I'll be more encouraged.

Yesterday I took a fitness test, I scored excellent in everything except core strength and regular strength. I did a ton of push ups but that measures endurance, sit ups were another story of course it's not my fault though, it's the belly's fault.

Today I go back to get a program. I don't think I'll be getting a significant workout today, just instruction on the machines and such so I'll probably go back tomorrow. Anyway I've got a 37 day trial so hopefully I can stick to it as I have with this blog and French.

Housing update, we found a place we like that needs a lot of cosmetic work, we're going to put an offer in tonight. It's bank owned so we're hoping to get it cheap! If we do get the place I expect to be extremely busy between work, housing repair, the gym, french, writing and then living to enjoy the fruits of my labour.

That's a lot of crap to do and now I'm off to do my French homework before the Gym.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Exciting Softball?

Yep it was an exciting game of softball last night. We played the top team in the league. First we got of to a rocky start losing 9-1 going into the bottom of the second, where we were to hit. We slowly crawled back and managed to pull within 3 runs, 9-6, with just one inning to go. I made my first out of the season, I was 21-21 or something but with two runners on and two outs in the fifth I couldn't pull it together and I flew out to centre, but that wasn't the last inning.

In the last inning we pulled within one run, I was on first and it's 9-8, again 2 outs. Kate was hitting and she knocked a ground ball to short. I was of course running as fast as I could and I'm pretty fast. Kate's no slow poke but but I guess the guy playing short didn't really want to risk a longish throw so he pitched the ball to the second baseman who was covering second. I was actually shocked they were going for me at second I was so close to the bag. So being that I'm allowed to and the game was literally on the line, I slid into second. Sliding is something that I've never been allowed to do in softball but this league allows it on second and third. Sure enough I slide into second and crash into the fielder, who I didn't realize was a girl until the play was over, and they dropped the ball. I felt a little bad. I didn't exactly hurt the girl but surely she was worse for wear after the collision. What can I do, it's the last inning we're down by one run with two out, I'm allowed to slide so I did, and I saved the game. The next three batters hit safely and we won the game 12-11.

I cut my leg up on the slide but it wasn't nearly as painful as the four balls I had to throw back into the infield in the first. I have bursitis or tendinitis in my right shoulder, stupid rotator cuffs, I've always disliked cuffs.

The mood was unfortunately a bit solemn after my awesome play, I guess people didn't want to celebrate the win under hard knock circumstances? I don't know, all I know was I made the play of the game, it was the TSN turning point for sure.

I rewarded myself by chugging a teammate's beer when he went out for a smoke.

In other news, house hunting is still going slow, tomorrow we'll have a line up of houses. The rats, the cats, and Kate are all doing well and we are officially out of our place on Napoleon on the 31st of October. It's going to be an interesting, and probably stressful few weeks ahead. Yay!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trudging Through It All

The house hurting is going poorly. There's always something wrong, foundation, bricks, closing date, location, asshole real estate agents (couple of those). It's becoming frustrating as we are officially out of our current place Oct 31st. We're in Toronto this weekend so time is quickly becoming our enemy. Add on French classes twice a week and all the packing we need to do and it's going to be a rough October if we don't find a place soon. So good luck to us!

Speaking of French class, have you ever been in a class with one of those jerks that always talks to the teacher, as if he's the only guy in class. The same guy who makes 'suggestions' on how to better teach the class. I was in shock and if it were high school the guy would have got a spitball to the back of his head when he suggested we memorize all the words in the lexicon before reading the content. Memorize the words out of context? What a painfully dull and ineffective way to learn something. This is the same guy who spoke for the class when asked if we wanted to take a break. He gets right in there and says no break because he has a train to catch, like I give a shit about his train. No one said anything at all. I don't want a break that's why I didn't say anything but there must be smokers in the class. If I still smoked we'd have a break for sure, if only to annoy this one ass. The class itself is huge and the room we're in is small, I was 5 min late last week and I had to sit on a metal chair from the hall with no desk to lean on, and I had to stare at the ass's balding head all class, of course he sits in the front room. The jerk answers every question before she picks him, there are participation marks and he's looking to steal all of them. I just want him to shut up, he'll tell stories and stuff in class! SHUT UP and stop wasting out time you idiot. All right rant over although I'm sure I'll have more, I'll only been in 2 classes with this jerk so far. When the stress of moving gets to me I may have to say something.

We had a double headed in baseball last night, we won both games and I hit a home run in the second game. Second dinger of the year. Unfortunately my right knee is a bit swollen and painful after back to back games and I said I could play football on Wednesday, we'll see how that goes, it's only touch of course but that doesn't mean much for my knee. I'm sure it will be fine of course.

Not too much else going on. Between house hunting and school it's been pretty busy. I did manage to watch the football games on Sunday. I went 11-5 to tie for the weekly win, 140 bucks or so. I should have won the whole 280 but a couple fluky Monday night picks lost the full amount for me. At least I'm in first over all, well again tied. Lots of time to extend my lead though.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of Class Round 2

While the day has not been horrible in any sense but it's been one small mishap after another and it's only 10:00 am.

We were awake early because Kate has to be at work at 8:30 everyday now, boo that, it means I have to be up too. We only had one Club Soda left so we split it and I had to bring a Gingerbeer with my lunch. On the weekend we bought glass containers with plastic lids. We both used one for lunch Kate's blew up in her bag and mine leaked leaving a fine layer of gravy over all the other items in my lunch bag. Minor mishap, could have been worse and got all over my school books.

At the office the only other coffee drinker is on vacation, a cool vacation I might add, he's following the trail of the US army from Normandy down to Paris. So he's not here and the coffee making is up to me, as it was on Friday. I'm not used to people not drinking coffee so I assumed the pot was empty when I brewed a new pot this morning. Of course I was the only coffee drinker on Friday so very little had been removed from the pot. As you may imagine it overflowed and coffee was everywhere. I cleaned it up before anyone else in the office saw.

I brewed a new pot and sure enough when I finally get a fresh coffee back to my desk, I spill part of it. It was again a minor mishap.

Then I go to use the washroom and the toilet is a cavalcade of toilet paper and shit. If you're going to use that much TP why not flush the toilet at halftime? This toilet is stuffed all the freaking time! I had to walk all the way to the mall and use the bathroom there.

I also realized that I've been inadvertently screening my parents who have a new 905 number. I thought they were trying to sell me something, which I get a lot of.

So today is my first day of class and it seems everything is 3 inches to the left, hopefully things straighten out.

Update on the housing front. We've seen a couple places that are good but one needed brick work and the other has some foundation questions. Two areas of repair we are not excited about involving ourselves in, but we are still following up on the foundation place. The owners claim to know nothing about it and we're going to see if a pro can take a look at the foundation, don't know if anyone will do that for free, the roofers didn't mind. Anyway I think that place is a longshot because of the foundation.

Wednesday we go to look at more places.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Real Estate Hell

So we put an offer in on duplex. It was countered, at the same time another offer for the same place was countered. The other people had looked at the house and put their offer in the next day. Kate and I took a week and did a lot of research on the house and the costs of the various repairs we were aware of. To date the house has had 5 offers including ours and the one that went in at the same time as ours.

The other offers were either too low or they were pulled after the home inspection. So I suspect the other people don't really know what they're getting into but offered more than us. All of this is reasonable in my mind, here's where it gets hairy.

So our agent is pitching our offer. Among his weapons is a list of homes that sold in the area for the same price, roughly, that we were offering. The sellers agent took them out of our agent's hand, said 'Bullshit!' and threw the papers in the garbage. An interesting technique. In the same discussion our agent asked how long they were giving the other people interested to do a home inspection and get financing, something we have a legal right to know, the agent refused to tell us stating 'I can make it 100 days and I don't have to tell you.' Okay, aside from that technically being against the rules I'm actually fine with it. It sucks for the seller because we're going to find another house and when this offer falls through because the buyers are too zealous our offer will be off the table. Oh well I guess that's why the house has been on the market for so long and all these offers are falling through, a mentally unstable agent. Now it gets worse.

We still like the place and we were given a counter offer that had a clause that if the other people didn't buy the house we would get it. We didn't like the price nor would I ever sign an offer without knowing how long the other people had to get the inspection and financing done, am I a moron? This agent must think so. So we send back our own counter proposal. This is the part that angers me, it seems he didn't even bother showing his client our second offer, that is illegal, or against real estate code or whatever. But what can we do? We've given up on the house and are filing an official complaint, hopefully the guy gets fired but we really have nothing left to gain from this endeavour.

We have already gained very valuable insight, we're well prepared to access the potential costs of another home and we are well aware of how nasty people in this business can be, although I'm assured this was a unique situation. I don't think Kate is on the same page yet but I am fully prepared to play hardball on the next house. People get real estate agents to do their dirty work and I'm not letting my kind hearted nature be taken advantage of. I am beginning to understand very well the common phrase 'It's not personal, it's just business' translated that means, 'I want to screw you but I feel bad so I'm going to lie to myself about how it's not my fault'. It's funny we accept that in the business world, but when some kid says he has a gun because society makes him we don't give a rat's ass.

Speaking of rats, ours are doing well. They seem more confident that we intend no harm, DoubleV actually leapt (is leapt a word? blogspot says no but I'm leaving it in anyway) onto me yesterday and climbed up to my shoulder. Of course upon finding no food up there he returned to the table he was on. The cats seem to be getting along better too, Brewski is calming down and hissing much less. A few days alone with Jedi seems to have softened him up a bit. He's not all the way there yet but it's promising.

I start classes again on Sept 8th and we lost our first softball game of the fall season 12-11. I hit a home run in my first at bat, my second of the year I think. I actually went 3 for 3 Monday with 2 RBIs.

Last weekend we were up at Scott's in Kingston where I helped him build a fence. It was quite enjoyable work actually, even when it rained on us. I look forward to a time when I have many such projects, hopefully soon in Montreal although it's been a rocky road so far.

So that's pretty much the crap I've done over the past week or so.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weekend at Loon Lake

It was an extended weekend I suppose with a wedding thrown in there on Saturday. The wedding was a fine example of a wedding. It was in a Catholic church but there was no mass and they moved it along at a steady pace so no complaints. Kate and I were also invited to a brunch since we were out of towners. Of course we knew no one so we sat at a table for ten by ourselves until one other misfit joined us. The other misfit whose name I forget worked for a Junior hockey team so the conversation was good for one of us. Kate was not impressed.

Most of the time we spent in Thunder Bay, or at the cottage on Loon Lake. We flew in with Porter on Wednesday and back home Monday. Thunder Bay is interesting in a boring kind of way but Kate and I found a great place called Ruby Moon, which had wireless Internet, food and beer and was near a comic book store. While Kate busied herself with free lance work I read a football magazine and browsed the comics at the comic book store.

The cottage also has a sauna so we were in there a few times. It's not like a hot tub. You can sit in a hot tub for twenty minutes and then roll in the snow for a couple minutes without feeling the slightest bit cold. You can also sit in a hot tub for an hour without passing out due to heat stroke. The sauna has other qualities, for one it's very hot and for two you cool down about ten seconds after you leave the room. Our bright idea to jump in the lake after the sauna was not as fun as I expected it to be. Instead it felt like we we jumping into liquid ice.

The rest of the time was spend cooking or cleaning or reading a book by the fire or on the porch. It rained for a couple days. The day the tornadoes hit southern Ontario we had some pretty hefty winds. The rattling of everything kept us up most of the night and the fact that the upstairs rooms aren't sealed made it especially cold. Almost as if the wind, which I believe broke the sound barrier on three separate occasions that night, was basically blowing on us all night. Cold and loud and creepy, I rather enjoyed it actually, especially after finding a couple Lovecraft books to read.

Now we are back in Montreal and spending our time learning about natural gas, and oil furnaces and other expensive house things. The roofers gave us an estimate that was much lower than we expected on the place we are currently considering but the 45 year oil furnace counters that pretty effectively. We still want it and will hopefully be putting an offer in tomorrow. Our only time pressure is government tax breaks so we have very little pressure to buy, still I hope to get this place at the price we want it at. I guess that's every one's story.

B+

I failed in my quest for an A but it's only the first of a number of classes so I have plenty of time to get that GPA up. There are a few reasons I missed the grade I was hoping for and I still intend to speak with my prof so all is not lost yet. Here are the main reasons I missed the mark:

1) Concordia has been under the McGill shadow for quite some time, in order to glamorize themselves they have adopted their own 'Concordia' grade structure. A B+ (the mark I received) is a score between 80-85%. For the first 32 years of my life 80% meant A, Concordia is a trend setter in separating the awesome from the awesome minus 1. I must also note that I am loathe to speak negatively of Concordia after dealing with the University of Terror, I mean Toronto. Perhaps the single most frustrating institution on the planet, except for a certain wannabe phone company.

2) I missed 3 classes at the end of the semester, in which difficult things were learned by many, but not so much me.

3) There was a very large section on reading comprehension that dealt with tax law in France. I would be hard pressed to comprehend it if it was English, let alone French.

4) I possibly suck at exams.

I also found out that the marks I get in these classes won't be as impressive to universities as I originally thought so it's not as big a deal anyway. I was however quite disappointed in myself nonetheless. Next time I'll study French tax law before the exam.

Next class starts on the 8th of September.

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Class in the Books

I wrote my final exam for my first of 5 French classes on Saturday morning. An odd time for a final exam, I guess they figure if we're taking summer classes we're losers and have nothing to do on Friday night anyway. In my case they were right.

I suspect that I did not do extremely well on the exam for a couple of reasons. First I felt horrible, I don't know if it was some bad crab meat (it smelled fishy) or what but my stomach was not in good shape. We went out for an early breakfast so I would be ready to write the exam and I did eat almost as much as I usually would but I was in a great deal of discomfort. The nervousness of having to write an exam was probably part of it but I still feel a bit off today. I ate some of those disgusting pepto bismal tabs and by the time I got to the school and met a couple of the guys from class my stomach had settled considerably.

As is usually the case I studied a whole bunch of stuff that wasn't on the test at all, the harder stuff, so I'm sure I made a few minor mistakes, which of course will add up. I know I forgot to make the verb etre agree in gender and number when doing the passe compose. I didn't even think about it until I was half a kilometer away from the exam room, a dumb mistake.

There was also a reading comprehension area. Now normally I do well at this part of a test, the reading I find easier than most other areas, I think many people would agree. For some evil reason they picked a topic that would have half gone over my head if it were written in English! It was about why the youth of France have more incentives to purchase homes. They get tax breaks and some other stuff that I didn't understand because it was a) written in French and b) about tax crap. How incredibly irritating, who knows maybe I aced that part. Basically I copied what I thought was relevant from the text as my answers. BTW did you know that 52% of private wealth in France is property?

We have our final softball game tonight, the 3rd place match. We were the victims of a last inning comeback last week. As disappointing as that game was to lose it was possibly the best game of the year. I didn't do anything spectacular but over all the game was close and fun. I hope tonight is the same, maybe with a bit less pressure. We have decided to sign up for next season though so the softball will continue into September! Let the real Fall Classic begin.

We saw a duplex that we like and I think we're going to put an offer in on it. We're up in Thunder Bay Wednesday to Monday of this week so we won't make any decisions until we return but I think we are going to try. They may not like our offer of course but it will be the first time we've made an offer so regardless of us getting this particular place it's a bit exciting for us.

Following in the footsteps of my sister we would move into the smaller of the two apartments and renovate it while we lived in it and rent our the other floor which needs much less work. The upstairs (where we would live) has been half gutted and not put back together. They tried to turn the living and dining rooms into one giant room so they took walls down but they didn't clean up the mess so now there's exposed wood beams and wires hanging around. The roof needs to be redone and since the floor is a bit of an open concept now (or will be after we clean it up) we're thinking about a skylight. So we think we can improve the place significantly, we just have to make sure we can make our money back plus more on it. I'll of course post more on the place when we take further steps towards acquiring it.

Wednesday we fly to Thunder Bay, there's a wedding on Saturday and Kate's family owns a cottage up there so most of the trip will be hanging out at the cottage. I was there once before when we drove to BC we stopped in for a night. It's an interesting place, lots of dead animals on the walls and the second floor was an add on so it's dimensions are a bit off, kinda creepy actually but I like it.

I'm sure I'll have fun meeting Kate's family, to date I have meet very few of them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rats!

To many of your chagrin Kate and I have two new pets, Doublev and I Grec. The names are the French pronunciations of the letters W and Y. I get that two Vs make a W but what the hell is I Grec? We got the pair from the SPCA, like the humane society in Ontario. It was quite a mess in there, animals everywhere, confusion, most of the people were volunteers I think. We managed to barge our way in and take a couple of rats, although I was yelled at for touching a kitten on the way, how can you not when it's rubbing up against the cage it's in meowing?

We got a cage the next day, the first night they stayed in Jedi's cat carrier. The first night they were in the bedroom but they make a lot of noise so now they stay elsewhere although we haven't really found a permanent home for them.

Brewski is adjusting to the rats much better than Jedi. He is curious and a little scared of them but has shown no hostility towards them at all. Jedi is her usual oblivious self. We took her to the vet last week, turns out she has cataracts. I've been saying for weeks her sight is poor, but there is little we can do. I'm sure her aggression comes from a fear that is derived from not seeing what's happening around her. Maybe her sense of smell is a bit weak too, who knows. She was only in attack cat mode for an hour or so after the vet so that's good. I do not look forward to moving her to a new place.

We have found a place that we like enough to see a second time but we want to investigate other areas of the city so I'm not sure if we'll actually be serious about this first place. It does have a lot of wood inside the house that could be stained to look pretty good. There are a few other things we can do to the place and the tenant pays 800 a month in rent so it seems not too bad. We looked at 2 other places when we first saw the place we like, they had obvious flaws, one had a backyard with a view of the Tralier Park Boys meet Chernobyl. The fat bald man being helped through a window by his 8 year old bald fat son was the deciding moment for me. That was the first thing I saw when I stepped into the backyard, the neighbours house being broken into by it's owners, a normal thing right? Then he comes back out the window and sits on the porch. his wife comes out the door with a drink. I think the guy forgot his smokes in the house or something so rather than go around he had his kid push him through the window. We passed on that house.

I've got my French exam Saturday morning at 9, gonna have to step up the studying, today I've got some lab work to do so that will help. Then tomorrow and Friday will be memorization and practice. Oh and it turns out that some of the things I'm learning, the hard things, aren't actually used in speech by many people, probably because it's too hard to get it right. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Screwed Up the Passe Compose

But I think it will be ok. More important is that I actually understood the questions I was being asked. The marks are of course important and I've set a goal of 85% (an A at Concordia). I want to have good marks here to demonstrate to this or other universities in the future that I am capable of getting As. My current undergrad is sadly devoid of that particular letter. Just one class left and the final exam, which is on a Saturday morning boo, although that Saturday night will be fun.

We caught and killed a fish up at the cottage last week. It was a small mouth bass, not very big but bug enough to work with and Kate wanted to experience the process. The killing isn't very pleasant but we figure we should be able to do it, rather than just have other people do it for us. so we started with a fish, when we own a farm we'll probably have to move up to chickens and others. It will be sad for us but life is often sad. So we killed and cut the fish up and put it on the BBQ and it was quite good actually. Only enough protein for one person maybe but I thought I did a pretty good job of cutting it up, only found one small bone in it.

Killing wasn't the only thing on our minds last week. We also acquired a couple items from my parents that will come in handy. The main acquisition was a chainsaw, while the chainsaw is my horror movie weapon of choice we think it will be better served preforming it's intended use, cutting wood up and the like. Again more of a farm tool.

We spend one afternoon playing with a chipmunk, so trusting those litter things are. You can watch a video of an epic struggle for a peanut here: http://katesversion.blogspot.com/2009/07/friends-chipmunk-peanuts-video-camera.html

That's some more of the crap I did last week, more crap to come later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Big Oral Exam Today

I should be studying so I won't post a long post as per usual but I need a break. Things can easily become confused. I thought I had the passe compose down pretty well but then we learned futur proche and suddenly I'm confused. Is it 'je suis alle' or 'je vais alle'? When you only know one of those two it's easy to keep it straight. I suspect my knowledge of french will not be the worst part of the oral exam today. I have a tough time hearing English words sometimes so hearing the French can be very tough. Maybe I should get one of those old school hearing devices, they kind that look like a french horn or the speaker of a gramophone. That might freak my prof out a bit though.

Kate and I were on vacation for the past week and a half or so. Most of which I will have to write about some other time as I really should go back to studying soon. We were in Toronto then Orillia then Sudbury then back to Orillia and back to Toronto and we arrived home yesterday. We left on the 23rd I think.

In Toronto I went into the office for a couple days and saw the guys, then John, Kate and I went up to Orillia. Kate and I actually went on an overnighter to Huntsville where I caught some kind of flu bug for a few hours.

We managed a couple rounds of golf, I golfed my best round ever and Kate enjoys the sport so I think we'll be playing it more.

We also clinched the playoffs in softball last night. I hit a two run double to make it 4-4 and we never looked back going on to win 15-9, they made it close in the 7th. Playoffs start next week. Just checked the website, we finished 3rd so we play the 2nd place team. Yesterday's win not only clinched a spot but put us up to 3rd from 4th. a good move since the 1st place team is undefeated.

I'll dedicate a post later this week to our last days at the cottage since it's up for sale! There's still a chance it will stay in the family though; I bought a lottery ticket for this Friday's draw. Bonne chance pour moi!

The cats, specifically Brewski, were not impressed with our extended absence. Upon returning home we discovered that one of the cats, the one that takes bigger craps, decided to use our kitchen carpet as a litter box. It's of a pretty thick material although it's a stretch to confused it with dirt, maybe if it was shag. Thankfully the carpet is just a throw rug so we can wash it, or possibly burn it. Of course now that we're back the cat refuses to be more than a foot and a half away from one of us. Jedi is doing well and seems to have not noticed that we were gone for so long. She has a vet appointment this week though so I'm sure I'll get my share of her displeasure soon enough. Cats. We are thinking of getting a dog soon, I'm hoping the dog will keep these cats in line although with the hissing twins it may be the other way around.

Back to the books.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baseball All Over the Place

My Uncle Tony was down for the weekend. Caught a ride with a couple friends of his, worked out quite well. We went to look at a house for sale Friday night but couldn't see one whole floor so that wasn't very helpful. Then we BBQed some chicken, that was helpful, for my belly.

Saturday we had a softball tournament. I did not expect to do well but we won our first two games! Then we BBQed some hamburgers. I brought my BBQ out to the park, not too difficult to get there but it was a bit of a pain to get together. The grease all over it made it a bit of a challenge. I still have the grime under my finger nails, not really because I cut them but I would if I didn't cut them. These days I have to cut them often because if I don't it's hard to play the guitar. Often I'll find that my left hand has nice neat groomed finger nails and my right hand has claws of death. I don't need to cut the right hand nails to play guitar.

So we were 2-0, the BBQ is going, we got way too much food and a 2 and a half hour break before our first playoff game. We practice a bit, eat, drink, it was fun. Then is started to rain, a lot. The first playoff games made it through but we were playing in the second bout of games of the first round and the rain wasn't stopping so they called it. The make up tourney is next Saturday but we'll be in Perth! Kate was quite pissed, so much that as one of the coordinators was running through the rain she wished her to fall in a puddle.

We did manage to play without rain last night and we won handily. It may have been the first game I ever played where I didn't make at least one out. I did hit a solid ball to the gap with the Sizzler though.

Today I get to study for another French test. I think it's going to be a tough one. Crappy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

French Is Getting Harder

I only got an 82 on my latest exam although I did lose 4 marks because I misunderstood a question. Still I wouldn't have got all of those 4 marks. Today we learn the dreaded Passe Compose, but on the plus side we get to have pizza at work because it's office picture day. Yay. I mean barf.

I've also got 2 assignments due today, they're not hard or anything it's just that there's 2. Things are really ramping up. I think I'm getting the hang of most of it but speaking in French is still very hard. For one I have to think of each word so I'm the slowest talked ever. Small children get frustrated with me and have kicked me in the shin on three separate occasions. I also have to ask people to repeat themselves a lot. I think that if French speakers spoke French as slowly as they speak English I would understand a lot more. They have to think about English so they speak very slowly but when they flip to French to 'help' me they whip through a sentence blurring the words into one giant word. I probably do that with English much of the time although I do try to make an effort to speak slowly with people I know who are still learning English, these people are far more advanced than I am in French.

I do enjoy learning it, the rules, it's like a puzzle. But that ends on the page. Once a conversation starts it's no longer fun. Maybe I should just carry a tiny tableau around and write everything on it to communicate.

One of the guys at work told me about a French sports radio station so I'm going to start listening to that. There's a couple reasons for this other than that it's a sports radio station. When you're listening to the radio there are names and places and words that aren't French. Kate for example can't follow a hockey game in French because she doesn't know if Komisarek is a French word that she doesn't know or if it's a player. Or she may be confused if they start talking about Le Igloo, do they mean a real igloo or is that another French word she doesn't know. I of course will be able to listen to French sports radio and I'll hear the names of players or teams and be able to concentrate on the French. If I'm listening to CBC and they're talking about politics then I'm totally lost. So that's one good reason to listen to French sports. Another is that if I do start knowing what they're talking about I won't be bored out of my mind, unlike for example: politics, or Oprah like call in shows. How disappointing it would be to listen to a station for a couple months trying to figure out what they're talking about only to finally realize they're talking about how to make a man not want to have fun once he's married. Boo that, sports it is! AM 730 CKAC.

Saturday we have an all day softball tournament. As usual this year when it comes to softball they are calling for thundershowers all day. We're going to get a tarp setup and bring food and beer, I'm going to bring my BBQ. Should be fun, the softball part too should be fun too, I guess.

I gave blood yesterday, I have A positive blood which is the second most common in Canada so they probably need lots of it. Plus it's a good excuse to leave work early.

Yesterday I learned that 'mise au jeu' is French for faceoff.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Canada Day Was um Interesting


The day itself was a typical day off. We took our bikes out to see if we could find a new patio somewhere. It was a sunny day, good timing after all the rain we've had, including today's thundershower warning and 80% POP. It goes from snow to cold to cold to cold to snow and snow to slightly warmer to cold again, then spring hits and it's cold and snowy and when it finally gets warm it's endless rain. Everything is very green and it is pretty warm, close to 30. I'll be happy when it breaks 30 everyday and it's too hot even for clouds, that's real summer.


So we rode east on Mont Royal, great part of the city if you need a new carpet or dryer so we came back west on Marie-Anne, one street south of Mont Royal. There we found a place with a patio and what looked to be great food although we didn't order any. Our food plans had been made for the day already, BBQ chicken and a salad from our vegetable basket which we were to pick up two hours after we found the patio. So we sat on the patio for those two hours and watched the food other people ordered. We will have to go back to the place but as usual I have no idea what it was called. We come up with our own names for places, that one will be the Canada Day patio.


The night before we saw Stevie Wonder open up the Jazz festival. It was a free concert. They had big screens in various parking lots near that actual stage so there was plenty of room. The only problem was the losers that opened up their umbrellas because three drops of water hit them, the umbrellas of course blocked our view. A couple of more bold people politely asked the few with rain fear to get those f-ing umbrellas down. Then some punks started slam dancing in front of us and another older woman was dancing and moving into us to try to get away from the punks so we left. We saw most of the show and we were ready to leave anyway but why not blame punks for everything. Not punk music punks but jerk kid punks.


Stevie opened by going on and on about Michael Jackson, how everybody was out to get him and we should buy his music not the literature about his life, which is surely going to be full of speculation. I agree with him really. I don't know if Jackson was an evil person, a mentally unbalanced person, or just an unlucky person with false accusations against him. To tell you the truth I don't really care, he was what he was, someone who made possibly the most profound impact on music since Elvis. I'm not a huge fan of his music but I am certainly not a fan of caring about what celebrities do when they're not doing what they are famous for. So I won't buy any literature about the life of Michael Jackson Stevie, I doubt I'll buy any of his music either though. In fact I'll probably do my best to ignore the whole thing. Now I wonder where Mike Komisarek liked to eat in Montreal before he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, anyone know if he's single? Or does he have any quirks I should know about? I'll just read about it on all the hockey blogs I subscribe to.


So back to Canada Day and the interesting celebration in the old port. For one they call it celefete. Fete french for celebration, I think, something like that anyway so celefete is like a play on the two words, the second one I've been able to identify since moving here. The first is a Tim Hortons breakfast ad that says Timatin, matin is french for morning. I actually laughed at that one. So during the Canada Day party, I mean the celefete, they had a wall of water with images that were difficult to see on it. It looked kinda cool but not seeing the images clearly kinda ruined the effect. Later they would spray a mist into the air and shoot lasers through it, other than getting wet from the spray that part was pretty cool.


There were kids everywhere, it's 10 o'clock at night and the kids are everywhere, welcome to Canada! They also had a beer tent that didn't ask for ID and they let you wander anywhere with your beer, welcome to Montreal! I wonder how many drunk underage people were there. After laughing about the beer and the lights and the kids we stop to pay attention to the stage. They're playing You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC, then a girl comes out and sings My Humps to the AC/DC tune. Strange to play one sing and have someone sing another in the first place but My Humps? I'm looking at maybe a couple hundred children as a woman belts out "my humps, my humps, my lovely lady humps" I'm laughing and then a dude comes out and sings the next part of the song "what you gonna do with all that junk, all that junk inside your trunk." Now I'm concerned for the youth of our nation. I assume few of them spoke English so they probably didn't hear the lyrics anyway. It was good to see so many people excited for Canada Day though, it certainly wasn't the show that had them going.


We didn't stay long.


Yesterday I had another French test, I think I did well on it. I'll find out next week. I nailed the boot verb part and I conjugated pouvoir and devoir like I was a French rapper. No I don't understand that joke either.


The exercise has all but ceased, other than my chin ups and push ups and Kate's daily bike ride, another other occasional bike ride, and the 15 flights of stairs I walk up everyday. Now we're switching to eating less. We don't eat poorly, no chips or candy or anything, but boy I can eat a lot of cheese and pasta. So we're gonna try and cut back on some of that. Boo. The liquid bread probably don't help either.


We have a visitor this weekend and a poetry event tonight, Kate is not preforming but I'm sure it will be interesting anyway.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kingston And Two Straight Losses

Kingston is a pretty nice town. It's old and has some nice shops and patios. We went to a place on Sunday that brewed their own beer, I don't really ask for much more than a micro brew and a patio, maybe some water to look out at once in a while. Kingston has all of that. Surprisingly I had never been there before, Ottawa is next for cites I've never been to. Kingston has some pretty interesting history too including some of a drunk Sir John A MacDonald, although the trolley tour was closed for some reason, lazy I guess.

Our friends Scott and Betty have a place near Kingston, a big nice log cabin. Of course these days a cabin is a house but the walls are log. I was interested in the insulation of the place and Scott said it was good. They have a few more tricks for that than they did a couple hundred years ago I guess. In Nelson we ate dinner in a restaurant that was a log cabin but the insulation there wasn't very good at all. I'm pleased to hear that you can actually live in one and not freeze over the winter. Scott and Betty's place is quite awesome, huge and with beautiful wood everywhere. They have a huge lot too. Not a bad place to settle down, Kingston has government jobs, French schools, land that's not 30 stories high and over priced.

Our friends Kim and Steve who were ironically on their way to Montreal (is it really ironic or just a coincidence, probably the latter). They stopped in for the afternoon, both married couples have children. One is two and one is a couple months shy of two. Both were great kids, well behaved, fun to be around. Of course I get to sleep all night every night so that's easy for me to say. I missed it but it seems the kids in their innocence decided to give each other a big hug. The kids being kids and slightly awkward physically, tripped and crashed into a train set. They were ok, even their pride I'm sure was fully intact, so we can laugh about it. If they do anything kids really can make you laugh, odd comments, physical comedy, fun stuff.

We did not get to build the green house because they are looking to put geothermal heating in and may need to rip up much of the yard to do it. Hopefully they won't have to but either way we're hoping to make a return trip to raise the green house and the car rental for the weekend was only 125 total including gas so there's no problem getting out there.

We lost our second straight game in some pretty sloppy conditions last night. The field was full of pools and half the team didn't have cleats so it was a soggy affair. The other team was able to drop some balls in between the infield and outfield. Imagine when you were a kid tossing a ball directly into a puddle in front of your friend, sometimes it was an accident but often you did it to drench them in puddle water. That was last night for us, plus a few wipe outs.

We biked to the game since it didn't start till 9:30. We rode along a waterfront path which was pretty nice, a bit confusing sometimes, multiple paths no indication where to go. Kate knew the way though so it wasn't difficult. The way back was a little tougher. The game ended around 11 and we had about an hour bike ride home, in the dark. Our first mistake was not following the same path we came to the park on. Also we were not in a very good mood. We had just lost handily, we were wet from the field and it had just begun to rain again. Plus I had a particularly bad last inning and Kate had some pretty hard hits sent to her through out the game.

So we ride out and find a path, one we assumed was the same path we took in. Unfortunately we found ourselves heading further away from the city, to the south specifically. We were actually in the midst of the Five Roses factory and the ship yard beside it. Why is there a bike path there at all is my question. I want to take a leisurely bike ride through a bunch of factories, sure I do. There were lights but the solitude and the time made me worried so we turned around and back tracked to another path that seemed to lead us in the right direction. Our mood improved somewhat when we saw the first signs of life again, life that didn't have a spray paint can in one hand.

All in all it was a good bike workout yesterday, for me anyway, for Kate it may have been a bit more of an average workout.

So an eventful few days although that seems to be the status quo out here in Quebec. There's always something going on. Tomorrow is Canada Day and this weekend we have a visitor, as we did last Sunday for one night. Then it's a softball tourney next weekend and then we're off to Perth the weekend after. I'm not complaining!

Friday, June 26, 2009

On To 2nd Semester

I had my first class back last night and wow was it ever long. I thought the class was about to end about 5 times before finally checking the time and seeing a full half hour left. It wasn't that this class was exceptionally boring I think I was just getting used to not going and the excitement that came with the first class of the semester was absent.

I did get my second test results and oral exam results back. I scored 89/100 on the test and 8/10 on the oral. I expected the 8/10, I didn't think I did particularly well but I'm determined to start speaking more french at home, related French too not just new things. I'm sure Kate will get used to me giving her directions to the local store, the subway (metro) and the bathroom. My professeur also has stated that the second semester is going to be much more difficult than the first. I knew those high marks were too good to last.

We just finished the third chapter and instead of two pages of vocabulary at the back, there are three and chapter 5 is only in French. But my background is improving and although the articles are still difficult I'm beginning to understand that they will always be difficult. Even Kate makes the occasional error. Once I start hearing it a little better I think there will be a bit of a snowball effect. I've also already signed up for my classes in the fall and spring semesters.

I've asked my company Globalive if they can help pay for the classes. I'm told they legally must pay since I'm in Quebec and I legally have to speak french to work here (I'm sure taking classes is enough), but they said no. The argument is that it sets a precedent for people to take language classes, I guess they intend to hire a lot of English speakers in Quebec because that's the only precedence I see. The question now is whether or not to fight it, of course it's me so once I find the actual legislation saying I must speak French and that the company must pay for it, maybe some case law too, I'll be bringing the subject back up. Will it lead to my termination? I doubt it but in this world of uncertain economies and in this company of certain unethical practices, you never know.

Tomorrow we leave for Kingston where we will be helping erect a greenhouse at an old friend's. Can I say old friend yet, am I old enough for that? Hopefully the predicted thundershowers will blow past us, otherwise the greenhouse building may be slow going and unfortunately for us I suspect the roof goes on last.

We went to the parade on Wednesday for St. John Baptiste Day. Lots of blue and white, at first I thought the Leafs won the cup but then I realized if I made that joke out loud I would probably be flogged so pretend I didn't mention it. There were some interesting things, a crew of people on bikes from various years, one dating back to 1817. One guy pulls up to us and says something in french that I don't understand, then he pulls his handle bars off the frame and says something else, then the rest of his bike falls apart. I turn to Kate for a translation and she's wandering away leaving me to deal with the French guy on French day who is either in trouble or trying to make a joke. Either way I feel an English bashing coming on so as he's putting his bike back together I rush away.

Brewski is very excited about his new found skill, hissing and growling. Last night he took it to a whole new level and proved himself to be at least somewhat intelligent. We've taken to allowing the cats into the backyard but this was the cause of Jedi's original freak out so we're rather cautious about it now. As a result Brewski does not have carte blanche when it comes to coming in and out of the house. I don't want to lock him out so when we go to bed so I bring him in. First it's a challenge to get a hold of him, he runs from one shelter to another. When I finally get my hands on him he'll hiss continually until I get him inside the house. When I put him down he'll swipe at my legs and make a woofing sound. After I've moved away from the door he'll sit in front of it, staring at it from less than half a foot away and growl. For an hour he just sat there and growled a long steady, and loud, growl. Jedi will wander by being her usual oblivious self until she gets near Brewski then he'll bat her in the head a couple times before he goes back to the door or Jedi tackles him.

All in all Brew is much less violent now. Instead of 'playing', which includes him wrapping himself around my arm and biting and scratching me, he'll hiss and bat at the ground then run away. Is that a cat thing or did he learn it from Jedi?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home From Toronto Again

We're back from yet another trip to Toronto. The Wedding went well, I was hung over for it after a day of drinking on a patio with John and Kim and a couple others. It was a great day, too great, Kate had to buy Gravol to make sure we were at peak performance for the wedding which thankfully wasn't until 5pm.

One of our Friday cohorts gave me his son's shoes. Seems the boy is 16 and wasn't into the dress shoes his father purchased for him. I remember such times very well and since I'm still of that nature a little bit I don't have good shoes. I have conservative shoes but nothing that anyone would actually enjoy looking at. It's odd to think people would enjoy looking at shoes but they do for some reason. So I happily took this pair and wore them to the wedding. I love the concept of passing things along, too often do things sit and rust, or are forgotten or just become smelly when we could give them to someone else. I don't just mean old clothes for the poor, or a can of pumpkin seeds for a food drive. I mean shoes that are perfectly good but you know you won't wear them, or video games that you haven't played in a year, or a microwave that's been replaced with a toaster oven. I was given a bike by a friend, then my dad said I could have his bike which was a little better and what was he going to do with it? So suddenly I had two bikes, people sell them all the time but they both had been given to me so I gave the first bike away myself, to a friend of a friend. I don't expect anything back for giving the guy a bike but then two years later I get a great pair of shoes. I would have got the shoes even if I had sold the bike but this way it feels better.

The wedding was at the Botanical Gardens in Toronto, not the one near Church St but a completely different one I had never heard of up at Lawrence and Leslie. Of course it rained a bit so I think we were forced indoors for the ceremony. We still managed to get outside and check out the gardens a bit during the reception. We even saw a little raccoon but I was too slow on the draw to take a picture of it.

It was good to see the guys again and after a late night we had an early train. We were pretty organized for it, we forgot my toiletries bag but I keep a spare set of all that stuff because I forget it a lot, and we forgot Kate's phone charger. I think we did pretty well. We loaded up on food and club soda, we got to the train boarding area with five minutes to spare. I pull the tickets out hand it to the ticket checker and suddenly it seems one of the tickets is missing. It's about 300 bucks to get a last minute ticket and we had 5 minutes. I frantically searched through my bag where the tickets had been all weekend. Nothing. I blamed the guy on our way out for taking the wrong ticket, extremely unlikely but I had to blame someone other than myself. With time winding down and me turning my thoughts to which bags I would take on the bus and which ones I would send with Kate on the train I suddenly remembered my back pocket. I think Kate was just about to reach her peak panic level when I said 'unless' and pulled the ticket out of my back pocket. The relief was very enjoyable, there are few emotions as satisfying as relief. If someone is going to find out you did something wrong, it's best to just say it right away. Kate I broke your favorite wine glass.

Just kidding about the wine glass. Sunday we met up with Dave who is visiting from Toronto, he put together the poetry gig. Both he and Kate were great as usual. There were two others, one I hadn't seen before, they were both fun to listen to as well. At one point in Kate's set she decided to ask the crowd if they would rather hear a poem about baseball or one that would embarrass me. After a chorus of cheers for the embarrassing poem my meek 'baseball' was met only with laughed and I was forced to endure an embarrassing poem. I've heard it before but usually I'm anonymous, or at least I pretend to be, this time there was no hiding but thankfully I was in the back corner of the room and it was pretty dark. A good night all around, and another late one but we did manage to have our first steamies ever.

Hot dogs (steamies) are all the rage in Montreal. I don't know how often I'll get them but we do live close to a number of hot dog places, yes a number I was surprised too. I has the bacon et formage avec moutard. It was bacontastic. Kate had a couple all dressed which I wasn't as happy with. After seeing friends at the wedding, hearing funny and sad poems and keeping my eyes dry the entire weekend it was three strips of bacon and as much melted cheese that they could squeeze into the dog that finally melted my heart, also there was beer with the hot dog so that didn't help.

Wednesday is St. John Baptiste day. There's a parade and a party at Parc Maisoneuve. We've got the day off so we're going to fully immerse ourselves in Quebec culture. I'm sure we'll have plenty of stories to tell from it.