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.


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


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.