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.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Toronto Wedding and Sunday Poetry

We're off to Toronto this weekend for a friend's wedding. Going tonight by train and home early Sunday for a poetry event featuring Kate, among others. I will as usual sit near the back and get red faced during the poems that are about me. Some of which will actually bring a tear to my eye and/or give me goosebumps, a dead give away that I'm the subject. Sometimes I practice my stoic face in the mirror but that's like trying to win a staring contest with the mirror, damn thing always wins. I do like going to the events, Kate is rather talented and often there are at least a couple others of similar quality. The host of this particular event, who happens to be staying in our place while we're in Toronto; bad timing I know, is also fun to hear. It reminds me of the first poetry event I went to.

I of course did not know what to expect, at all. I thought Mike Myers in So I Married An Axe Murdered (he got off lucky) was pretty funny. I dearly hoped I would not have to snap my fingers, which I have seen that from time to time but usually clapping is preferred. Also it was quite early in our relationship, the first non work social event I think. A couple of the poems she read were about other guys, her latest ex specifically. It was still a good poem although I haven't heard it since that day. All the poems Kate read that night were great and she really impressed me. The rest of the poets not so much.

The first guy had published books, I studied poetry, I've even written some, I enjoy it. This guy published a book, it has to be up my alley right? I settle in with a bunch of people I don't know, Kate, and another friend from work. I'm the new guy to be sure, something I'm usually pretty decent with. Of course there is still a bit of awkwardness and I think Kate was a bit surprised I was willing to go at all. I am quite pleased to find out the whole event is in a pub so I have a pint and a chair, really what more could I want. For one thing I could have wanted the first poet to stub his toe and not go on but I didn't know I wanted that until the third or fourth word of his first poem. Were I physic I may have laid a small booby trap. Is it just me or is it really fun to say booby trap? I do not have the ability to see the future though and this guy went on. I wouldn't say it was bad poetry, not to his face anyway, perhaps it had more to offer on the page, I don't know I'm certainly not going to buy his book. For the first ten minutes of his set I basically had one though "What have I done to myself?" Not the 'oh no I cut myself on broken glass' type of thought but the 'oh my God Hell exists and I'm trapped in it, why didn't I let those school children go', kind of thought. Then he started counting to ten. No joke. I'm sure someone somewhere would argue the artistic value of such a poem, the timing of each number, the fact that he counted to ten then back down to one, the simplicity of it or something. In my mind and my one university level poetry class worth of knowledge, it was the worst poem ever. Even worse than the poem the same guy read in which he made a series of sounds, a e i o u, and sometimes even y, or as the French like to call y, egreck. Egreck will be the name of my first child or next pet, whichever comes first by the way.

The second poet certainly had written some nice poetry. It was totally depressing, long, hard to understand when she's saying it and you have zero time to reflect, and it was your typical boring poetry. Not quite as bad as Zorgon poetry, known as the second worst poetry in the universe, second only to the first guy that went on that night I believe. She was depressing and I almost fell asleep. By now I'm really concerned, this is the kind of poetry all these people are here to see, they like it? Do I have to like it? Can I leave? Of course I would never do that but you see why I was concerned.

Kate was third up that night. I think she may have started with the poem I mentioned about her recent ex, a hockey player. I think she was two lines in when I realized that as bad as the others were Kate was neither boring nor over your head artistic, in fact her poems were fantastic. He poems have style and I would certainly consider them art, but not the kind of art that only the artist really understands. Kate's poems are fun, entertaining, they have a social edge. You don't need to spend sixteen hours deciphering them, you can sit back and enjoy them, and everyone who hears them enjoys them. So with great relief I sat back and listened to her set.

I've agreed to go to every event that has come up since, even a couple that Kate has not preformed in. Most of the other poets we hear are similar to Kate, I'm not sure if I've heard anyone better than Kate, but a couple are close or on par. I've not heard anyone as bad as those first two. Now I am confident every time will be fine, it's like once you get bitten by a shark, bees are not really much of a concern. I will note that although many poets have interesting things to say, or funny things, many of them also tend to have this poetry voice. It's the same voice, lots of people have it. This kind of halting type of speech that will pick up speed and turn into a run on sentence ending with a deep breath in, then a punchline of sorts. It's hard to describe but if you ever go to an event you'll notice that there is a common manner of reciting poems. Not everyone does it, Kate doesn't, most of the better poets don't do it although I have heard some really good stuff in that 'poet voice'. I wouldn't call it annoying, I'm sure it's some sort of mechanism to get the poems out, I know I would stumble over the words if I tried reading on stage. So I of course am not complaining about it, but you really can see that the most confident people do not use the 'poet voice', or if they do it's only in bits and pieces. A rookie will often speak exclusively in the 'poet voice'. I don't mean to knock these guys, like I said I couldn't get up there and pour my heart out in the form of a poem, I think I would pass out even if I had to do it. I give a lot of credit to these people that go up, I just think they should lose the 'poet voice', or at least fewer people should use it.

So I do look forward to the Sunday event, although the wedding we are going to is on Saturday and we have an early train. It may be a difficult day on the whole. I would say I'm going to be low key for the wedding but my I'll be seeing a couple of guys that really helped me out a few years ago who I don't get to see as often as I would like these days. When I found myself living alone, for the first time in my life, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I was alone in many ways. I was unsure of how I got to the place I was and I had no idea what I was going to do next, I had to almost completely rebuild my life. I of course had friends still, but I only knew one person downtown and he had a life of his own. I had my neighbour who I saw often but I wasn't even sure what was going to happen with him. Turned out he came across the hall more and more often until I eventually nicknamed him Kramer. I can even remember him slamming into my front door when I locked it one day, I think he was carrying as bowl of something that he spilled and had to go back to refill. Kramer helped me out a lot, he introduced me to a couple of guys living a couple floors above us, Andrew and Eric. Eric ended up living with me for almost a year, with Kramer around about as often as we were and Andrew is the guy getting married on Saturday. Seriously, if it wasn't for these guys and a couple of my longer term friends I don't know where I would be today.

Thanks guys, I know they don't read this blog but really thanks. John, Ian, Andrew, Eric, Chris you have no idea how much I owe you.

Enough sappy crap I do have some interesting news. Kate and I have decided to enter the world of home ownership. Of course we haven't found a place and there is always a chance we won't find one that we like but we feel it's a perfect time to buy. We met with a real estate agent yesterday and we found a mortgage broker. We've done a lot of research and have picked out areas we want to check out. We're in no rush so it may be a long process but we're excited to start our hunt. It doesn't mean we're committing to a longer term in Montreal, although we've never really set a time frame for our adventures in Quebec, we just think it's a good decision considering the current economy. I'll provide any updates or fun stories, I'm sure there will be a few of the latter.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Montreal Means Festival

Toronto has some cool festivals, Taste of the Danforth, Beerfest (not anymore), a small Jazz Fest, and there are probable a couple others. This weekend, as with every weekend in the summer I think, Montreal had more festivals than Toronto has all summer. It's crazy, they shut down major streets for entire weekends. When we the last time Bloor shut down from Friday morning to Sunday night. Mont Royal was shut down in that time period for Nuit Blanche, not the full Nuit Blanche I think but one of the two off shoots. The other was in the dead of winter, which we attended, we were cold. There is a Nuit Blanche in Toronto too, it goes all night one night and you can travel around the city checking out various artistic works, it's pretty cool, and it's over night. The winter version was over night and buses were free, that was cool. This Nuit Blanche included art painted on the street, Mont Royal. I think it was called Nuit Blanche Sur le (maybe la?) Rue. Patios everywhere, vendors hocking their wares, for the entire weekend. We went three times to check it out amongst our travels to the Fringe festival. That's right there was another city wide major festival at the same time. And from what I hear we better get used to it. The Jazz Fest is coming up, and there are a host of others that I've forgotten about because really I don't need to remember. If I want to go to a festival I'll just step outside and be right in the middle of one, it's unavoidable. There's no reason to plan to go, so there's no reason to remember which festival is going on which weekend.

The Fringe Festival is a performance art festival. We went first to a park to meet a friend and saw a couple (I think they were a couple but perhaps not) preform (sort of) with fire in a park. The girl was pretty good, she had a hula-hoop with sticks that were on fire sticking out of it. It was pretty cool to watch her spin the thing around and jump rope with it. I don't even think she burned herself although it's hard to tell. The dude that played with fire probably should have had more attentive parents. He was ok, some of the stuff he did was decent. I can't really get past one part of his act. He had already screwed up minorly a couple times, once burning his own ass with a stick that had fire on both ends. He's riding it around and the fire is creeping up the stick towards his ass. The crowds re-action of concern tipped him off and he stopped riding the flaming pole. Then, and this part is about as shocking to me as seeing a cat beat a Saint Bernard in a cage match, he flipped the stick in the air, let it bounce and then attempted to kick it back up into his hands. It would have been mildly impressive but the stick was on a huge angle when he kicked it and it went flying towards the crowd. He runs over and picks the stick up, not a big deal I guess although I turned to Kate and said I'm glad I'm not in the first row for this. Then the brainiac figures he would attempt the same stunt, I guess his routine isn't in tune with the music although the girl's seemed to be. So he does the exact same thing and the exact same thing happens, the flaming stick goes shooting off towards the crowd. I started planning what I would do when this jerk lit somebody on fire. First, finish the beer so no one expects me to throw it onto their flaming head, second plan escape routes for when the entire stage catches fire, third find a show that doesn't include fire. No one was burned except the performer and he was successful on his third attempt to kick the flaming stick, but holy crap.

At the same stage area whilst waiting for the show, and we were only there for a show we didn't know what we were going to see, I go up to the beer are for a beer. They're not serving beer. why not? The cops are coming. Did I miss something? Am I at a keg party? Why the hell does an advertised festival, that's rented a park area, need to worry about the cops. Sure enough the cops come, then they leave, in seconds even though many have beers and there's a giant sign that says BEER 4$. so once the cops leave a guy comes around telling everyone the beer tent is open again. Only in Montreal. Oh yeah and there was a half full bottle of Jack Daniels on a bench on the way in, and one the way out. I guess it's for people who don't have enough money to buy a beer.

Next we go see a poet across the street from the park that almost burned down. The guy is from England and has a number of political satire poems, quite funny. He also came out to the crowd before the show and introduced himself to everyone waiting. Kate and I once met a guy once outside of the Hummingbird before seeing the play Misery (awesome BTW). This guy asked us if we just ate at some restaurant we didn't eat at. We said no and he said we had doppelgangers roaming around the city. Then he asked if we had seen Misery before, we said now, he said we'd like it, I said thanks. The he said we need not worry if we're running late, the show won't start without him. I raised an eyebrow and said ok buddy or something although those lines. We found the whole conversation odd. The inside the theatre the guy who saw our doppelgangers steps up on stage, he's the freaking host. I like it when the people running the show stand in line, or are out in the crowd talking to them. I missed some of what the English poet said, the accent, the beer, the lateness of the night all contributed but the parts I did get were entertaining. Don't remember his name though, maybe I never bothered to know it. He's from England I doubt I'll run into him and need to remember his name anyway.

On Wednesday we're going to try and go see Cobra: The Musical. By Cobra I mean GI Joe's enemy. That's right. And it's a musical, I can't wait. Cobra-la la la la la la la la la, that's the actual battle cry for Cobra, it loses something on paper but if you ask me in person I'll give you a live demonstration of it. The GI Joe battle cry is much less interesting, it's 'Go Joes' or something. I personally am a fan but I can understand how others may find a simple 'Go Joe' a bit boring.

A pretty exciting festival laden weekend it was. I also helped my landlord replace a couple boards in our back deck that were rotting away. Then we rearranged the furniture out there and I BBQed salmon. It's too bad I have to interrupt my life 5 times a week to go to work.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Still Sore Lots More

I guess it's a sign of getting older or something, my legs and entire torso have been achy all week. It seems to get worse everyday! Must be all the weeding at the farm, I don't know.

I had an interesting wait at the bus station. Usually the bus is waiting for me but today I had about a 10 minute wait. Lucky for me another soon to be bus passenger had his iPod on and was serenading the rest of the crowd with his preferred brand of music: gangsta rap. He either wasn't an adept enough rapper to sing all the lyrics or maybe he just didn't know them. He knew all the parts with swear words though, it was these parts of the various songs he had lined up on his iPod that he chose to belt out. My favorite part of the concert was when he repeated the word 'bitches' about 5 or 6 times before closing the song with a 'yeah'. I think many of us would be embarrassed to sing out loud in front of strangers, no matter what the song (other than the nation anthem perhaps). This guy not only sang the swear words of gangsta rap without a care in the world, he even danced a bit. That stiff arm spread finger thing and the slight bounce in the knees dance, you know the one. And on top of that he's just saying the word 'bitches' over and over? I expected the women in the station to slowly start to crowd around the guy before maybe kicking him in the shin or worse. Instead we all kind laughed at him.

I expect the vision you have of the Bus Station Rapper is not quite right. He was tall, about 6 feet, maybe a bit more. He was overweight, enough to notice but not enough to get on Jerry Springer. And he was Chinese. Imagine a fat faced tall Chinese dude with half a moustache dancing and singing gangsta rap in the bus station. Surely a great way to start the day. It's not the first time I've seen this guy. I saw him once before with his iPod waiting for the bus. This first time I saw him his concert was interrupted before I could hear much. In the midst of his first song the Bus Station Rapper noticed the guy beside him also had an iPod. Joy of joys must have been the first thing that popped into the BSR's mind for he exclaimed, "We're iPod brothers!". The second iPod brother of course chose to ignore the BSR who made a couple further comments about how pleased he was they both had iPods before taking the hint. The BSR got on my bus both times I saw him but he was also quiet on the bus, I guess the intimate venue is a bit too much for him. Next time maybe I'll try to get some film of him on my Blackberry, hopefully he doesn't have a Blackberry himself or I might be the next technological device brother in his life.

Another reason I'm sore I suppose is we played softball Monday night. I stunk, mainly because I was sore. I went 2 for 4 but both my hits were weak, a nubber that went 4 feet and a pop up to shallow left centre that manged to drop in. I also hit into an RBI fielders choice (Kate being the preferred out on that play, something she voiced her displeasure about to me). So I ended up with 2 hits, 2 RBI's and I reached base 3 out of 4 times. We won 13-3. I also had only one opportunity to make a catch in left field, which I made. I did make a decent dig on first, but the throw from second wasn't actually in the dirt, just low. It was the end of a double play though, I'm not sure how many double plays I've been a part of, may have been the first, you don't see them in softball too often.

I had my second test yesterday, I suspect I did not reach the 90% area but I guess that will depend on just how the marking gets done. I had to write a whole paragraph, if I lose a mark for each mistake I may not get much on it. Hopefully if I put the odd au in where a du should be she'll go easy on me. My oral exam is next Tuesday.

The neighbours moved out last week and decided to leave a garbage truck full of junk laying up beside my place. They even put their crap on some of the plants I planted. The good news is that I am often outside in the evening, BBQing or just being in the outdoor air. Various real estate agents will come by with prospective buyers. Now I've got the power. I'm still debating about whether or not I play the mentally challenged neighbour, where I make loud noises and swear a lot maybe, or if I should be the jerk. The back yard beside me is completely closed in, no alley access. They have to come through my backyard to get out. I've heard the agents telling people they can go out through my backyard. In real life I'm 50/50 on that, but as the jerk I would be 100% against it. We do have a lock for the door but I don't want to be a jerk to the person who actually moves in, I want to prevent people from moving in thus being a jerk to the owner that dumped all his garbage all over the side of my house and my plants. If the junk is not gone by Friday I'm going to call the real estate agent and strongly suggest they have their client remove the garbage. If they are unconvinced I may refer them to this blog entry, or perhaps I'll suggest that I might want to come out of graffiti retirement. There is a fresh canvas that is the front door of the newly unoccupied residence. Hmmm I wonder what I could write, perhaps 'Welcome, to this wonderful abode.'? Or maybe "I killed the last person who lived here, I'll kill you too!" I love this town but some of the people that live in it are amongst the least considerate people ever.

Till next time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Weekend Update

The weekend started off with us biking downtown to see Star Trek. What an awesome flick. Kate is more of a Next Generation fan so she didn't really know all the characters very well but she liked is as much as I. Bridging the generation gap I guess, should I say that about my girlfriend? Anyway great flick, if you're on the fence about seeing it, go see it.

From the movie we went to the Montreal Beer Festival. I used to go to the Toronto Beer Fest all the time. In the first few years is was slow and we tried a number of different beers. We had VIP passes, it was my favorite weekend of the year. As the years went by the festival became more and more popular. At first that was great, there were more beer tents, live music, more food items. Then the punks found out about a festival for beer. In the early days we would try strange new brews and learn about the process used to brew that particular brand. Long into the early afternoon we would learn about Kegs and the history of beer. Any attempt to do that now amongst the jostling of position in the beer line, and the guy pouring the beers frantically trying to accommodate all the people in line without being ripped off by the punks looking to scam a beer, is futile. Plus who cares, many of the beer tents are the same crappy beer you can get anywhere. It literally went from what you may expect a wine tasting affair to be, to a kegger. I don't mind keggers, but it's a beer of a different colour than the beer festival. So in short, punks ruined my favorite day of the year, and it's not just because I'm not a punk anymore, which is arguable. Kids today, I tell you, youth is wasted on the youth. The Montreal Beer Festival is much more civilized, not sure if that's due to the punks being too preoccupied with spray painting everything or if it's too new, but whatever the case the festival was fun. We tried all sorts of strange beers I've never heard of, including a red stout that was great and a couple new blondes, both Kate and I love blondes.

The beer situation in Montreal is far superior than Toronto. The beer is not only cheaper but far better. I'm not saying put the best beer from each province against each other and Quebec will win, I rather think not. What I am saying is that for 20 bucks you can get a lot of a really good beer in Quebec (a 15 pack of Trembly is 16 bucks), in Ontario for 20 bucks you can get a 6 pack of a good beer or a 12 of something that is probably horrible, I'm looking at you Blue, Canadian, Coors Light, etc.... I'm almost exclusively a microbrew guy now, nuts to Molson and Labatt, they're like the Walmart of beer.

So we were going to go up to a friend of Kate's farm this weekend, but he had family obligations. So instead we went back to the organic farm. After a long bike ride out, we spend the first half of the day weeding a sweet garlic patch. Tough work, I scratch my arms up a little but it weren't too bad. Then we learned how to hoe with various hoes in a broccoli patch. We also hunted for some little slug like things that curl up around the base of the plant and eat the leaves at night. I killed one, Kate didn't find any, so I won that battle. Kate stole my Swedish hoe which was wonderful and gave me some stupid stirrup hoe that was much harder to manipulate, if you want to buy a hoe, get a Swedish one. After a grueling bike ride back home we, well I can't remember what we did Saturday night off hand, I didn't study any French that's for sure, need to get on that.

What was supposed to be a relaxing Sunday turned into another long bike ride to a pretty cool market north of us. Lots of plants and vegetables, we carried back as much as we could but we'll need to go back. My legs are very sore and tired today and we have a softball game, the first one we actually will get to play in. If my legs hold me back it's Kate's fault for making me exercise.

I've got another test on Tuesday, so I may miss the final Stanley Cup game but that's not too big a deal, hopefully it will go 7, which will be on Friday. That will be fun.

So that's the update on the Crap I Did last weekend.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Aced The Test

I got my test back in my French class. It's actually our second test, the first one was that pop quiz I think I mentioned. I only got 76% on that one but on the real test I got 92%. A large improvement but there were extenuating circumstances that prevented me from being at my best for the first test.

I actually had to fight a little to get my mark up to 92%, something I never did in school previously. Now I need every mark I can get so I can finish this certificate with straight As. If I can get high enough marks in this program I can use that to get back into another University. My marks during my three years at UTM are not high enough to get me back in. I need to prove myself by excelling in university courses. That's why I actually care about my marks, for possibly the first time ever in my life. Anyway I actually got only 91% at first on my test.

I would scan the test and post it but the University won't let us take the tests home with us. We're allowed to look them over in class but we have to give them back, I assume it's so we don't post the thing for other students to see. Lazy school, how hard is it to write new tests every year?

One of the sections on test was read a paragraph about three camps and then fill in a chart below the paragraph. The chart wanted to know the activities the camp offers, and the months it's open, that sort of thing. It was a section devoted to reading comprehension. So the grid itself on this chart is 3 by 4, which makes 12 squares. The section is only out of 10. I start filling them all in, la la la, and I get to one that asks for something that isn't really clear in the paragraph. It was the length of stay, I couldn't really tell if the camp was a day camp open certain days or if it was open for the entire summer. I actually began to write down an answer and then I realized that this particular grid didn't have a number in it. Every other box had a 1. or 3. all the way up to 10., but two squares were blank. Since the section was out of 10 and there were 10 numbered boxes I figured I didn't have to fill in the other two squares. I finish the test and leave.

When I next see the test I've only got 9 out of 10 on this section. I look and the prof has highlighted the very section that confused me and then drawn and arrow to the blank box (the box I had written something in then scratched out). So I think that because something was written in the box the prof thought the same thing as me, that the information was spotty at best but still there, and she took one mark off of ten. She didn't add up all the correct answers, which would have added up to 10.

After class I bring my test to hand in and ask her about it. She's a very nice lady and of course agrees with me and states that now she'll have to check everyone's test. I apologized for that. I think she'll find that only my test has the problem because I'm probably the only fool that wrote in something in the blank square and then crossed it out. Even if I had left the information I probably would have got 10 out of 10, even though I would have given 11 answers.

So that's the story of the first time I ever fought for a mark, and I won! Yay for me. Too bad I can't fight for more money. It would be easier for me to goaltend the Islanders to a Stanley Cup final next year. I'm sure I could get them into the playoffs and maybe even into the 2nd round but it gets hard after that. Crosby and I'm sure the Leafs will be kicking around in the 2nd round next year too.

Our plans to visit Dunville (aptly nicknamed Funville although I've never been there so I can't really attest to that) this weekend have be cancelled. Particularly because my buddy Eric, who is from Funville, is off to PEI for a job. Not fishing or oil, Eric works in the film industry. I'm quite happy for him, he gets to travel to PEI for at least a part of the summer and he's been living his dream for a couple years now at least. It's really a great story, he worked in an office and hated it until one day he said screw this and started working in the film industry. I know it was tough for him at the start but now he's getting steady work and he's even got a house in The Hammer, Hamilton. The other reason we can't hook up for a trip to Funville is because we were going to go for a festival called Mudcat. Turns out the festival is not this weekend but next. Oops. Well it don't matter none anyway cause Eric will be in PEI. Our mutual friend is getting married in a couple weeks in TO, which reminds me I have to email him and ask what he wants. We'll have plenty of time to catch up and plan a trip out to Hamilton. Yay.

So now we have a free long weekend, Kate has Friday off in lieu of all her great Calgary work and I have vacation days coming out my left ear, the right is blocked with wax so there's nothing coming out or going out of that one. We were debating camping, as noted in my last post, but I think we've got a new plan. A couple friends of ours who enjoy having fun as much as the next guy want to come down next weekend so we're going to use this long weekend to relax in the summer sun at home and take our second trip to the farm. Friday will be patio, sun and beer day, possibly a run in the morning but let's try not to remind Kate that we're supposed to be running. We'll hit the farm Saturday cause there are fewer volunteers on the weekend. It seems the people who volunteer or younger and have nothing to do all week but on weekends they party it up or whatever. We, well me, are old so weekends don't mean as much anymore. Something I was noting just yesterday. When I was younger the week sucked and the weekends ruled. Yesterday I was happy to have a day off Wednesday, today. I'm still at work but after work I don't have anything to do, no softball, no guitar, no french. Other than the weekend days Wednesday is the only day I don't have anything so it feels like a day off, even though I have to go to work still. Perhaps that I can post to my blog and surf the web all day contributes to my feeling of having the day off. I can't help it, I'm not suited for this office life, I need to work with my hands. Having an Xbox controller in my hands would be ideal but really I think office life sucks.

Computers are ok, writing is fine, but going through hundred of folders that people have created and then never used is pain. It's sooooo boring. That's the thing with an office job, they're not hard to do, they're boring as hell. Maybe not all of them, but most of them look pretty boring. Mine is probably one of the less boring jobs and it bores me big time. I look forward to sinks clogging and chairs falling apart so I can fix them it's so boring. People think I'm being this great guy cause I'm fixing their chair or taking old batteries to the hazardous waste facility. Nope not nice, just bored. For any co-workers or specifically my boss, I'm just kidding to make the blog more interesting.

I guess I've rambled on enough for now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rained Out

Well the game was rained out. The good news is the other team didn't even show up so we were credited with the win. We also found out the first game that we missed was only an exhibition game, perfect. Kate was a little worried about bringing beers to the game. I understand the though but it's a softball league which I believe means we can be kicked out of the league for NOT bringing beer. I made sure we were well equipped. Since we didn't play however we didn't have a chance to drink the beer we brought, instead going to the pub to drinks whole pints, much better.

The game was at 9:30 so it wasn't too bad going to the pub instead of the game this time since we wanted to get to know the team. In the future we won't be going out late. Kate was quite grumpy this morning since we got home so late. That I wake up chipper and refreshed with the same amount of sleep only infuriates her further. Plus Jedi had a mini hissy fit which slowed us down this morning too. I'm not worried, she's still on Calgary time and I'm sure the office won't mind her being late as she readjusts, they don't need to know about softball and pints till midnight.

The team seems pretty diverse, which is great. A couple of the girls on the team live right near us too. We scored a ride home last night and may be able to get a couple more in the future, perhaps trading pregame BBQ for rides. It's obvious that some people are there to make friends, just like us, so it's a pretty cool atmosphere. Now all we need to do is start actually playing. There was also much talk of chugging beers thought the evening. In my experience the guys that do the most amount of that kind of talking tend to bow out early due to drunkenness. They all talk big and want other people to drink and drink and drink but if they match you, they're usually on the floor early. If we ever get to chugging beers I'll follow up on this note, personally I'd rather not chug too many beers for the following reasons:

1. The beer flavour is wasted

2. Some of it always spills on your face

3. There is a chance the beer could come out my nose which is painful

4. If we have pint glasses fine but I'll pass on the dirty funnel

5 Getting drunk on Monday nights isn't my favorite

So I'll probably pass on any chugging unless the game depends on it.

My test on Thursday was pretty simple. I'm sure I did fairly well but you never know with a language. You can be very confident the question was "Do you have any pets in your home?" when really it was "Are you married?" To which I would of course reply, "Yes, my cat's name is Brewski." So now the professeur thinks I'm married to a cat named after beer. Also I could have made a million spelling mistakes. I know all the accents but it's tough to know where to put them sometime, and I'm sure it will become much harder. Hopefully I'll get the result tonight.

I did manage to get all my lab work done last week. I get there at 4:00ish and start working away. It's multiple choice questions or fill in the blank and a bunch of record your own voice stuff. Around 4:45 I meet a guy from my class. I'm about half way through the preliminary chapter and I have chapter 1 still to do. I figure I've got about an hour and a half left, plenty of time to get to my class at 6:30, which would put me around 2 hours for all the work. So I ask the guy from my class how long it took him and he says 5 hours, ouch. I tell him I'm going through rather quickly and he says it gets harder. Oh oh, it's due that day, I don't have 4 more hours to finish. I keep working away and while it does get harder it's still simple stuff. I have no idea what took this guy so long. In the end I did it all in 2 hours which included a 10 min work call, a few texts to Kate and the conversation I had with the guy.

It's freakin cold here, what's with that? It's June, didn't God get the memo? It better be warm this weekend or the cats are going to have to eat the cheap food for a week. Someones gotta pay.

We were going to go away this weekend but it fell through so now we have a long weekend with nothing to do. We may try to find a place to go camping, I suggested we pitch a tent in the backyard to save money but Kate didn't like the idea very much. I argued that we could pretend the cats were wildlife and we could use the BBQ as a fire pit and we'd have a fridge to keep the beer cold but still no. I guess real camping is a good option too. Speaking of which I better go use my valuable company time to do some research on good camping spots in Quebec. Also I have to do my french homework.