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December 4th, 2012

10:32 pm - New Job!
Hi Russell;


You have successfully completed the final stage in your application process. The Selection Panel reviewed your application on December 3 and you are one of the successful candidates selected for an Emergency Communication Officer position! Your start date will be January 21, 2013.

Over the next couple of weeks you will be receiving further correspondence from our Human Resources department regarding your offer letter. As well, you will be contacted by our Training department regarding your training schedule, training materials and uniform.

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July 26th, 2012

10:41 pm - Wow...
...it's been a while since I posted in here. Just don't have as much to say, it seems.

Things are going pretty well. I have a job related 'secret project' that I hope to keep hearing back from. Meg's secret project is well under way, too.


Work though, work is driving me nuts. It's been quite stressful of late, dealing with the purchaser. I made a decision a few days ago. I decided that I was not going to try to get myself fired, but that I would stop trying so hard not to get fired. Some folks asked me about that, but think about it...how much extra work do you do around your work so as to ensure that you are seen as a good employee to keep around? I have been putting up with a miserable excuse of a purchaser for over a year now, and it's not getting better. She's still trying to foist blame off on me whenever something goes wrong. The job's just not worth it.

I've been doing well with weight/self-esteem issues lately. I had a few bad patches, but for the most part have really picked up my pace. Doing a monthly budget helped. Meg and I sat down and we both tracked our expenses...and it blew my mind that in a month, I was spending as much on 'extra' food as she was on 'house' food! Basically, I'm sort of ashamed to say, I was supporting my local Tim Hortons, Subway and Dominoes a bit too much. So I've cut way back on that. Of course, that's helping the waistline and the wallet.

Also, kind of proud of myself. My working weight, on two of the arm machines at the gym, is now 210lbs.

Speaking of budgets, having sat down and had a really in-depth look at our combined finances...we've come to the conclusion that we've not really been...mishandling our money, but that we do need to take better care of it, so to speak. Big plans in those ends, too.

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March 20th, 2012

12:38 pm - Vacation!
So, Meg and I finally took off on a vacation! We packed (lightly), dropped 'the kid' off at 'the grandparents', and off we went!

Stef comes and gets us "oh dark stupid o'clock" in the AM to get to our 7am flight in time. We blow through security hardly blinking, find our gate, and have a seat to wait for boarding. While we are waiting, we hear various names being called, and hear that Air Canada has 'changed the plane' the flight was supposed to be quite a lot. As they are boarding our plane, they call Meg and I up. It seems that they are putting us onto a plane bound for Toronto, not Montreal, and we can catch our connection flight there with only a 4 1/2 hour-(ish) wait instead of the 6 hour wait in Montreal. Sounds good to us. We fly off to TO. We get there and wait, and wait, and wait. Thankfully, you get free wifi in Canada's airports these days, so it's not too bad. Especially after blowing through both security and customs again in about 15 minutes total. We get on the flight to Ft Lauderdale, and get there, all told, about an hour earlier than we'd expected to.

Now, we don't know much about Ft.L, but we arrived early so that we could be sure we didn't miss the boat. Our papers say our embarkation time is around 1pm on Sunday, so we figure getting there late on Monday night and getting a good nights sleep (and shower) after a long day of traveling is a good plan. Neither of us have been to Ft.L before, and so when we get to the departures area, we are tired and hungry, and just have the name of our hotel. A fellow asks if we are "need a taxi" and when I tell him we do, he says that he "has a car, same price as a taxi." I kind of look at him, wondering if we're going to be using his personal car or something. We tell him the hotel name, and he says he can get us there for $45. I tentatively agree, figuring if it is just a personal car, I'll renege and we'll grab a cab. He takes us outside, and opens up the trunk of a stretch limo sitting in the taxi lane. We both kind of goggle at him and ask him if he's serious. He replies that he is, and opens the back door for us. We climb in and proceed to spend the 20 minute ride being boggled by the car.

We get to the La Quinta hotel, bid goodbye to our limo, and set about unwinding some. We had passed a Walgreens (which is kind of like our London Drugs) and figured we'd walk back and pick up a few things that we figured would be easier to get in the states than try to fuss over bringing with us (seeing as we hadn't checked any bags for flight). Despite knowing that it's going to be there, it's always a weird thing to walk into a store in the states and see a huge wall of smokes that aren't covered up and coolers that sell all sorts of alcohol. We get what we need, and pretty much just head to bed.

We call a cab to take us back to the airport so we can take the shuttle to the ship, and in discussions with the cabbie determine that he can drop us off at the cruise ship just as easily as he can the airport, for about an extra $2 or so on the meter. He explains the mechanics of it to us. See, never having been to Ft.L, we didn't know that Port Everglade (which is where all the cruise ships leave from) is about a 5 minute drive (if you drive it slowly) from the airport. We tell him excellent, and to take us to the ship. He does so.

Port Everglade is pretty awesome. You look around, and see all these ships that if you aren't aware that you are looking at/for ships, you will mistake them for buildings. These things are massive, and the one we went on, the MS Nieuw Amsterdam, is one of the best ones out there right now (and has been for this year and last year, according to PortHauler Magazine...). The Nieuw Amsterdam is 935ft long, 106ft wide. It grosses 87,000 tons, and has a top speed of 23 knots. This time around, it had 2111 guests on it, serviced by 888 crew...and had some room to spare. This thing is literally a floating city. At it's tallest "people deck", it's 12 stories tall. I think that there are another 5-6 stories below that that house stuff guests aren't allowed to see (crew, and mechanics, basically). The boat was stunningly beautiful. The glass outdoor elevators were quite a nice touch, too.

We go through a long process of security, customs and check in, and find that at the last minute (again...) our cabin has been changed on us. We are now in cabin 1056 instead of 7062. Now, we did know that being 'higher' in the ship is a bit more status, so we were wondering about the 'demotion', but we didn't really care. Our original cabin featured a bed that 'could be combined into a queen', and was an inside room. We figured "We won't be in it much anyhow, who cares about the room." The one we were upgraded to featured a king size bed, and a viewport as close to sea level as guests can get. We considered it a hell of an upgrade, though most of the folks we were traveling with probably wouldn't have.

All of the elevators (and the NA has 14 of them...) have floor mats. These floor mats change with the day, stating "Monday" "Tuesday" etc. When we asked Cruise Director JC why this is, he said that after a few days at sea, the days all seem to blend together, and folks tend to forget what actual day of the week it was. I didn't really believe him (though I still thought it was a cute touch) until we'd been out for about 6 days, and I did find myself wondering what day it was....

I'd had a few days off prior to us leaving, but Meg hadn't, and she was still quite a bit stressed out and not relaxed yet. So we took shameless advantage of the "shoving off" special at the spa, and each got a 1 1/2 hour massage. That helped quite a bit, and the rest of the day passed quickly.

Deck 9 was the "Lido Deck". It was pretty much (for me) where most of the time was spent. It had all the buffet dining facilities on it, a midship pool with 3 hot tubs, a water fountain for the kids to play in, and a bandstand with a bar on it, and the 'aft deck', which is where I spent a good portion of my time. Again a pool with 2 hot tubs (this time, those were adult only, which is WHY I spent a lot of time there), a bar and the kiosk sized "Slice", a place dedicated solely to having pizza available from roughly 11am until 11pm.

The other place I spent a lot of time was the "Showroom at Sea", which was forward, decks 1, 2 and 3. It was their theatre, and basically...OMG I WANT ONE! Holy carp, frankly! It was very clearly custom built into the ship, and it shows it. I snuck backstage, and it's huge back there (Meg and I were quickly found out and sent back into the house, dangit). During their shows, pretty much the entire lighting grid is fully automated using some of the newest leko's and zooms I've ever seen. The followspots (I counted 3) were manned, of course. But the biggest thrill was the stage itself. It was a proscenium stage, and in front of the main traveler, they had a 'pit' that was probably 16ft long by 5 wide that was fully on hydraulics. Back behind the traveler, they had sectionals. I would guess them at 4 feet wide by 16 long, and there were 4 of them. You could raise them in any combination, and they used them like stairs quite a bit. The highest I saw one go was probably 6 ft, and they often had the rest at some interval in between. As if that wasn't enough, those sectional were on a rotate that was probably 25ft in diameter. They all worked so smoothly that you couldn't hear a thing, even in the front row (trust me, I tried!) as it was both rotating and lifting/dropping the sectionals. Just amazing. Most of the shows were some pretty fantastic ensemble dance pieces, with a troupe of 4 female dancers, 2 male dancers, 2 female singers, and 4 male singers. Some great, great stuff. I made sure I never missed a show of theirs.

That first day, we also had a mandatory safety drill. That way you are sure you know where you are going, and if you can get there. Everyone is assigned a lifeboat, and there are 2-5 staff per boat to ensure that everyone is there. As soon as we were given our cards indicating which lifeboat we were on, I was all over figuring out how to get to it. We were in lifeboat 4, which is accessed from deck 3 (all the lifeboats were) and was roughly right above our cabin (They call them staterooms, I tend to prefer cabin). We were on floor 1, and close to the stairs, so it wouldn't be too tricky for us to get from cabin to lifeboat.

Their lifeboats are something else, though. Or rather, lifeboats today are. Take a boat that can hold around 150-200 people comfortable. Put a 'lid' on it. Add in a high seat and some windows along with a 'captains chair' and a motor, turn it all fiberglass, and you basically have these 'new' lifeboats. I've got some pictures, but in essence...picture a small submarine that you use for touristing, and you have these things. Quite handy.

Our first stop, the first day out was at Half Moon Kay in the Bahamas. This is Holland America's private island. It's pretty much all beach and mass feeding facilities. There are various things offered for one to do (horseback riding, snorkling, etc) but we were still just starting to relax and didn't want to do much more than lay on the beach. So Meg found a nice spot on the beach, and I spent a good bit of time just roaming the island. Sadly, I didn't quite sunscreen her well enough, and she burned in odd patches through her shoulders and face. Yes, I got a bit of a burn too. Especially on my face. Our pale, pasty Canadian geek skin was no match for the relentless Caribbean sun. ;) Here, we were introduced to the concept of "tendering". Our ship was way, way too big to dock at HMK, so what they do is bring out a bunch of little ships that are designed for the sole purpose of moving people from the big ship to the shore. These little ships are called "tenders". Which makes sense to me on several levels. The purpose built ones at HMK can carry around 250-300 people a go, and pretty much run non-stop all day. They fill up, take people to (and from) the Kay, and just repeat it all day.

The next day was a day at sea. Now, one may ask "What in the world do you do stuck on a boat all day?" Well, that's a good question. Every day, around 8pm at night, you'd get what is called an "Explorer". It's a little 2 page bit that the ship makes, and it explains the various things you can do that day. On the last page is a checklist of all the activities going on for that day, when they are, where they are, and who's running them (since some events one may think boring, are actually quite interesting depending on who's hosting the event.) It was also a 'formal' day, so Meg and I tarted ourselves up, and off we went to the 'fancy' open dining room to get some food.

We get there, and Meg's looking stunning, and I have on my dress pants, one of my fancy new shirts, and my new tie. I'm feeling pretty darn good, despite being a bit warm already. But I have my short sleeved fancy shirt on, and should be ok through dinner. The maitre'd stops us (well, me, really, he let Meg walk a few steps ahead of me before pulling me aside) and mentioned that I had a tie, which was good, but because I was wearing a short sleeved shirt and not a jacket, that some folks may complain. I was about ready to tell him to tell the complainers to take a hike up to deck 9 and jump, when Meg came back. He produced a light gray 'loaner' jacket, and I put it on, resigning myself to sweating through dinner.

Now, to be fair, the dinner was pretty swank. It ended up taking nearly 2 hours, but it was pretty swank. We got taken to our table, and it was a table for 6. We asked the fellow showing us the table if there was a mistake, since we are a party of 2, and he said that no, it was the right table. We sat down and got ready to eat, Meg soothing me as I was upset that the entire point of me bringing my shortsleeved shirt was so that I wouldn't boil. Next thing we know, 4 more people are seated with us. Apparently, during open formal dinners, you get given 'friends'. The dinner passed someewhat interestingly, as one of our tablemates was quite a character and who is doing some interesting and serious work in a field Meg is interested in (Digital Forensics).

Nearly late, we rushed off to the theatre for the show. It was a fantastic show, and after it we headed off to watch "The Marriage Game" close by. We got in about 5 minutes before it started, and found some seats. The Cruise Director (JC) was hosting it. He comes down, and asks if there are any newlyweds in the room. When no one raised a hand or stood up, he spent a couple minutes checking to make sure, then asked if there were any couples that have been married between 1 to 5 years. Meg immediately stood up, so I did too. Then I looked around and saw that NO ONE else was standing. I knew immediately where this was going. JC looks at us, and goes "Well, that's almost newlywed, come on up!" (JC is a brit by the way, and has an awesome accent along with an infectious love of his job that is pretty amazing. He's also very, very charismatic). He then finds a couple married for 26 years to join us, and a couple married for 58 years. I won't go into the details, but suffice to say, much fun was had by all, and Meg and I ended up tying with the 26 years couple for first place. I missed an easy question, or Meg and I would have won. It was hilarious fun (Such as JC asking about Meg and I ever having sex in the early winter with the door ajar...to which I replied that he'd obviously never been to Canada which had the canuks in the audience, and there were a lot of us, in stitches.) and made us minor ship celebrities for the cruise. Even on the last day, we had people come up to us "I saw you on that marriage show, it was so funny!" We also had a newlywed couple thank us, as it turns out there WAS a newlywed couple in the audience (7 days!) and they were too shy to stand up!

The next day (Wednesday) saw us pull up to Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Here, they tendered us ashore using the Nieuw Amsterdam's lifeboats, which was pretty cool (I thought, anyhow). Here, we also, finally, 'met' some dolphins. Meg's wanted to meet/play with a dolphin for quite some time, and it's something I've wanted to do, too. So we signed up for the "Dolphin Extreme" shore excursion (which is a tour that your cruise line plans, books, and takes you to and from) which promised to let us meet dolphins, visit a turtle farm, and hang out with stingrays. Sounded great to me! We got a little bit of shopping in while waiting for the tour to start, and I got a very nice, comfortable and cool shirt made from bamboo. We headed off to our tour and started with the turtle farm. Sadly, we picked the later excursion, and it was running late, so we really only got about 15 minutes at the turtle farm before heading off to hang out with the dolphins. At the start of the dolphin area, is the manta ray area. It was a fenced off place, and you would walk through it, and a trainer would pick up one of about 6 different manta's swimming about the area, and hold it for you to touch and get a picture taken with. Honestly, the manta felt more 'slimy' than I expected, except for two very hard, spiky sort of ridges along it's back.

Then, dolphins! That...was quite an experience. You got to touch, pet and kiss a dolphin. Play with him some (have him dance with you) and...swim with him. Our dolphin's name was Newton. Swinning with the dolphin was pretty fun. You got 2 swims. For the first, you hung out in this big area with a boogie board, and the trainer cautions you to arch your back and keep your feet as straight as possible. So you are watching Newton play with the other people in the group, and the next thing you see is the trainer flick his arm at you. You look around, and then all of the sudden, you have a dolphin snout shoved into one of your feet. Newton gets a good 'balance' from you, and starts to swim toward the trainer, pushing you. Now, I've been waterskiing and kneeboarding...and that was much like it. Those dolphins are STRONG, and they are fast swimmers...and enthusiastic! A couple people nearly got pushed into the wall Newton would push so hard and fast. Next, you'd be floating there, and the trainer would tell you to put your arms out to one side. Newton would come along and flip upside-down. You'd take a hold of both his flippers, and he'd drag you across to the trainer at top speed (I have a picture of Meg doing this!). One of the small children in our group couldn't hold on, but Newton kept him on his belly and swam him to the trainer, it was pretty cool. The only problem is that you are asked not to wear sunscreen, as it can harm the dolphins skin. Fair enough, we thought...but what they don't tell you is that they have a shower on the dolphin dock for you to wash it off...and they have you change and wait in the sun for about 45-60 minutes. Meg and I got pretty badly burned, honestly. If we'd known about the shower, we'd have sunscreened up, and just used that before going out to the actual dolphin dock. We went back to the ship exhausted from the sun, but quite happy. From the gift shop, I got the picture of Meg I mentioned, and a tiny little stone manta ray for my computer desk collection for me.

After some recuperating, the next day's stop was Mahogany Bay (Roatan), Honduras. A special treat waited for us here. Through a series of events, it turns out that the parents of a friend from Calgary were staying out in Roatan. They have a place there, and spend a month or two a year there. They know the island quite well, as well as personal tour guides who aren't on the cruise ship list. They set us up with one, and we had an amazing experience here. We visited a lot of 'off the beaten/cruise ship path' places, but the one that struck me the most was the Mangrove Tunnels. We were in a small, narrow boat going through mangroves that were so close together you could reach out both sides of the boat and touch them. We went to an amazing little place for lunch called "The hole in the wall". The only way to get there is by boat or helicopter. It's in a protected little cove, and is on the water on stilts. We pulled up, and had a mind blowing lobsterburger. We did some more touring, and then our tour guide, who turns out to be a good personal friend with the friends parents who set the tour up for us, takes us to see them. They were preparing to leave the island and go back to Calgary, but could spare some time to see us. So we go to the bar on the beach to meet up, and Kate tells us that she brought along her and her husbands snorkeling gear for us to play around with for a half hour or so. Sadly, I hadn't brought my swim trunks. But Meg brought her suit, and soon she and Kate were off snorkeling while Trevor, Tina and I chatted. This stop was probably, imo, the highlight of the trip. But, as with all good things, it ended. We had to run off back to the boat.

In Roatan, Meg picked up 3 seashells as a gift for my mother. When we got back on the boat, I went right up to Aft 9 to watch the departure (which I always enjoyed watching us come and go into port) while Meg decided to have a shower to wash some of the salt water from the snorkeling off of her. She put the 3 seashells in the sink and washed them off a bit, then climbed into the shower.

I finished watching the ship leave, and went to find her, when I saw her bustling quickly through Deck 9 midships. I gave her a hug, and she said to me "Guess what!" I asked her what, and she said "Those shells I brought back for your mom! One of them decided to up and walk off!" A bit stunned, I got out of her that after her shower, she gets out, and 6 yellow and black legs have appeared out of the shell and are dragging it off. Or rather, they are trying to. She caught up the shell in a glass, and tried to find me. But she was looking for me on Deck 3, not 9. And as we got further and further away from port, she was worried that the little hermit crab inside would be harder and harder to return. So she let him go over the side, not too far out of port.

Friday, we were off the boat again, this time in Costa Maya, Mexico. They had some Mayan ruins here, and Meg and I really wanted to see them. There's not a whole lot I can say about them, except that it was pretty fantastic. We've got a lot of pictures, so we'll be showing those off. The pictures pretty much speak for themselves. It's amazing architecture, and being there, there was just this sort of...feel to the place. It's here that I picked up my white/grey onyx jaguar. Meg also found 'the dress' here, after seeing one in Hawaii and not buying it, and then looking at every port this trip for one, she finally found it in the dying minutes of our last port stop. She also did a very good haggle to get it. ;) It was a formal night again. We got all dolled up again (Meg in her new dress this time) and wander the ship, too. We came across the ship's photographer, and got a very nice set of us taken. We weren't sure about the price, but the 'sitting fee' was free. You just waited your turn, he put the two of us into 3-4 couples poses and a couple 'single' poses, and told us we could check in to the gallery tomorrow and see what he offered.

Saturday was our last full day on the ship, and it was at sea. Not much to say about this day, as I spent it wandering the deck enjoying everything I could, and Meg spent a goodly portion of it reading in the Silk Den. We looked at our pictures from the night previous, checked the prices, and decided to get the '5 shots' deal. So we have 3 very nice couples shots of us, a nice single shot each, both in print form and on a cd.

Sunday we got up, had a nice breakfast, and slowly made our way off the ship. We grabbed a cab to the Riverside Hotel, and got there very, very early. We were told in the email that check in was 3pm. We were there around 9am! We figured we'd ask if they could hold our bags, and we'd just wander the area. We asked at the front desk, and they had our room ready already! So we put our stuff there, and decide on a walk. We wandered up and down the Los Olmas Blvd, and quite enjoyed it. Coming back, we hung out a bit, and then decided to go hit the farmer's market and one of the bakeries we'd seen for fresh items for breakfast. We decided on doing that instead of going to the hotel's outdoor pool. In the end, this was a very good decision. Upon our return, we found out that about a half hour after we left (we'd been gone for about an hour), a car lost control coming around the corner near our hotel and plowed, at high speed, into the pool changing room/washroom area. Sadly, a pregnant woman was killed, as she was in the washroom the car struck. The husband was in the bathroom over, and was cut up and badly shaken. The driver was in critical condition. All I could think, after feeling quite sorry for the husband, was "What if that'd been us? What if we'd been there, and Meg had stepped into that bathroom?" Kind of a sobering thought to end a vacation on.

I also discovered my ex-wife is living in Ft.L now, and has been for the last 8 years. She invited Meg and I out to go karoake'ing with her. Sadly, it was the day we were slated to leave. I'm glad that we are at the stage now where we are friends, and I would have liked to see her, and have her meet Meg (and to meet her man. ;) ). When I think back as to how bad it got between us for the first couple years after, I look at this point, and see it as some pretty good progress. Next time I'm in Ft.L, I'm looking her up for sure.

The flight back was pretty uneventful. The only complaint is that the seats are much smaller on Westjet over Air Canada, and so we were jammed in pretty good. Meg and I don't mind, but we were in a plane with 3 seats to a section, so it wasn't very comfortable (but it was quite friendly...). On the second plane, it wasn't nearly as full, so we were able to find a 3 seat section, and claim it for just the 2 of us by moving back a row. Worked for me. Bess and Ken picked us up from the airport, and we hurried over to pick up Bea from mom and dad's.

Now, back to work tomorrow. I'm rested and feeling pretty good. I've also got quite a tan, according to my dad. And, if you've read this far, thanks! ;)

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March 9th, 2012

06:46 pm - Wow...
...I need to write in here more. =/

Heading off on vacation tomorrow. The first since our honeymoon. This time, we're going out for a cruise through the western Caribbean. We've got 4 stops, and 7 days. Should be a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to it.

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November 15th, 2011

09:26 pm - Male Self Esteem
It's not talked about much, but men have bouts of depression over self esteem issues, too.

Several months back, a friend and I started going to the gym on a pretty regular basis. We'd go a couple times a week, and we did this for around 3 months. I was starting to feel really good. And then real life (tm) happened. He got busy with other things. I got busy with theatre and other things. My work schedule changed. His work schedule changed. In the short end of it...it's been about 2 months since we've gone to the gym.

I've been wanting to go again, but to one closer to me. Meg and I tried the CoC one close by, but it's pretty horrible. The one my friend and I went to is around an hour drive away with traffic. Even without, it's about a half hour away. Just too far to go after work.

Meg and I had been talking about going to the one that's less than 10 blocks away from here, but never really found the time to do so...until Meg won a free 10 day pass for 2 to it. So we go and get the spiel, and I start to think that it'll be good to have a membership here, where, if I'm feeling bored, I can drive 5 minutes to the gym or (when it's warmer) walk the 25 minutes or so it'd take.

As part of the membership fees, you get 2 free sessions with a personal trainer. One is a 'getting to know you' sort of meeting, and the second is a walkthrough workout designed for you by the trainer based on the first session. I go for my first session tomorrow. As I was sweating away on the bike today, i was thinking about what I'd talk to the trainer about.

See, I've already been up front with the person telling us about the gym that my main reason was that I wanted to look better. That's really it. I want to be more in shape. When I play street hockey, I want to be able to run end to end a couple times, not just kind of hang out around the center line and burst up or down as needed.

I was mulling it all over in my head as I ground out an hour on the bike, and as I was peddling, the thought came unbidden to me: "I just want to stop looking like me."

I thought about it for a bit, wondering where this particular bit of self-loathing came from, and it occurred to me that it's the sort of thing that everyone does to themselves. I can't see myself through other folks eyes (I am generally glad for this...) so the only eyes I see myself through are mine. And mine don't see the definition in my arms and legs. All my eyes see are my round, chubby face, and my pot belly. That's it, according to me. That's my sum total. My torso and face.

It's not very realistic, of course. But it's there. And now, it's time to work on it in a positive manner. I'm kind of excited about this meeting tomorrow. It feels like it's really time to take charge of my appearance and actually take it in the direction I want to go.

Here's hoping.

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October 17th, 2011

10:28 pm - Birthday!
So, I turned 35 this past weekend, and had a heck of a party for it.

We started out with a quiet saturday morning/afternoon. We've been really busy lately, being quite social and all, and it's been taking it's toll on me. I tend to need some alone/quiet time to recharge my batteries, and I've not gotten much of chance this...well...this entire summer, honestly. But I get what little bit I can.

Then we head off to the Cheesecake Cafe for supper! Get a table for 10, which is about what we figured would be the amount of people showing up, The waiter overheard Meg and I talking about my birthday plans, and asked if I planned on getting the free piece of cheesecake to celebrate. I told him "Heck no, I don't even like cheesecake." I could see the "then why are you here?" look on his face, and explained that I liked the food, I liked the variety, and I liked their carrot cake. He said that he could get me some carrot cake instead of cheesecake. I told him he had a deal. Folks showed up, Jessica got me the board game "Red November"...and all is awesome! My 'old' friends got to meet some of my theatre friends, and the world didn't implode!

Sadly, few of those eating could stick around for the second half of the night, roller skating! I am pretty decent at this, but tend to always forget that Meg is not. About midway through the night, there is this 15yo or so and his friend hot-dogging it in front of her. She's unsteady on her feet, and unsure of her balance, and having them horsing around close enough she can touch them is unnerving her. She asks them to do that somewhere else.

A couple rounds later, one of the 15yo's has gone from horsing around to zipping around the rink. I'm about 20' behind Meg, just slowly cruising along. This little punk comes up behind and beside her and cuts quickly behind her, putting his hand on her waist...which, since she's already unsteady on her feet causes her to fall hard onto her backside. I quickly zip to her side and tell the kid in no uncertain terms to keep skating...

A bit later, I'm helping a friend who came with us who hasn't skated before. It's taken us about an hour and a half to convince her to give it a try. She's got one arm linked through mine as I slowly skate beside her, and the other hand is never far from the railing or wall...but she's doing ok. I'm helping her down the far side of the rink, when I feel a 'thump' against my hip. I look beside me and see nothing, then look in front of me to see the same young punk who knocked Meg down rolling slowly to a stop and looking at me quite surprisedly. Seems that he's not quite as much of a hot shot when 'meeting' someone who probably has a good 100lbs on him and is just as solid on skates as feet. I hope he learned his lesson. I leaned over (my friend and I had drifted to a stop as we weren't moving fast, and the punk was on the ground in front of us) and said in this sicklysweet sort of voice. "Gee, sorry. Guess you should really watch where you are going. Might get hurt next time." He picked himself up, and slowly skated off.

On Sunday, there was some more relaxing, and then we went off for a bit of new RP with some new friends. It was a smaller game/table than we are used to, but it was a lot of fun. We'll definitely be having some more fun game times with them. All in all, it was a pretty great weekend!

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October 4th, 2011

10:43 pm - Introducing Molly!
So, at long last, after many, many years...I have a car. I had asked my dad, about 3-4 months ago, to begin looking for a car for me. We talked about what I was looking for in a car, and how much I was looking to spend, that sort of thing. Dad looked off and on, and eventually told me he had 3 dealerships he wanted me to go look at.

I did so, and fell for an '06 Mazda 3 Sport GT. We went to the dealer the next day, and the deal was made. I picked her up on Saturday, and have been quietly enjoying the change to car from public transit. Gone is the hour long-ish commute, to be replaced by a 15-20 minute one. I am revelling in the fact that I can leave work 5 minutes 'late', hit the bank and the Mac's on the way home, and STILL get home 1/2 hour before I would have with transit. I am enjoying the fact that I can drive Meg around, instead of always having to be driven around...or being a nervous wreck when driving her car.

So, introducing Molly!

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October 2nd, 2011

03:34 pm - So Far...
It's been quite a weekend!

Friday is pretty standard work. Up at 6, at work by 8, slave away until 4, go home. Then the real fun of the weekend began! It was the first night of a double show night. So we did a 7:30pm performance, and then a midnight showing as well. They both went off amazingly well! We had great audiences, and a lot of fun!

I got home around 2:30, and got to bed around 3. I was up at 5am to be at work for 6. It was inventory day. Myself and the other guy who was there had asked and asked if we could get the start time pushed back a bit. Even to 8am, maybe. But no, it had to be 6am. So we get there at 6am, and...no boss. We start counting. The boss rolls in around 8:30. No excuse, no coffee as a 'Sorry I'm late, glad you were here on time' thing , no 'sorry I'm late' nothing. Nothing but an "I'm not a morning person. I was going to stop for coffee, but didn't feel like it"! So we keep counting, and 1/2 hour after our 'proper' lunch time, we finish some counts and tell her we're going on lunch. "Oh, you can't. We need this information right away, so you have to redo this before I can finish it." WTF! If she'd gotten her butt in on time, she'd have had tons of time to finish it.

So...there's going to be a formal complaint about her to her boss and the union on monday.

I finish at work, and Meg comes and picks me up. We head up to the dealership, and take possession of Molly! The fiance lady we were talking to is quite nice, and we ended up chatting with her for about 20 minutes just on 'stuff' before getting to the paperwork. The gentleman who was 'delivering' my car told me that because it was used, they didn't have a jack or tire iron, but he'd put an order in right away for one. I take possession and drive off, quite happy.

I get about 10 minutes away, and my phone rings. At a stop light, I check the message, and it's the dealer, saying that he'd gone to the parts department to put the order in, and they handed him a tire iron and jack. *facepalm* I turned around and drove back. He showed me where they were installed, and gave me a soft sided grocery-style bag, too. Always good to have a couple of those in a car.

By the time I got home, and showered, it was 4:30. I decide to take a quick nap before leaving for the theatre. Meg wakes me up at 5:15.

We get to the theatre, and it's just BUZZING. Everyone was so excited and happy. We'd almost sold out on pre-sales, selling 250 of 289 seats. The house was jammed! Even the bank teller who Meg talked to earlier that morning while she was getting the draft for Molly showed up. She and Meg got to talking about the show, the teller said it sounded fun and she'd be there...and she actually was!

Both the 7:30 and the midnight show were amazing. We finished up again around 2:30. We got home around 3...and could just manage to drag ourselves to bed.

But hell, that's what weekends are for, right!

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September 23rd, 2011

06:31 am - Woo
It's opening night for Rocky Horror Show! Meg and I are dressing up at the 'techy phantoms'. This is going to be a blast!

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September 4th, 2011

09:43 am - Writer's Block: Paging Al Gore
Would you give up the Internet for $10 million? (this is for the rest of your life.)

I don't think so. It's so hard to say, of course. But I look at the internet for what I use it for. I talk to most of my friends and arrange get-togethers on it. I have met a great many people because of it. Most of my games now requires some sort of connection to the 'net. I get the few tv shows I want to watch over it. I get the local and global news. I use it to see if a store has what I want, in stock, right now, and what their phone number is.

It's really insinuated itself into my life, and made it easier in a lot of ways. COULD I live without the internet? Of course, especially for the 'comfort' of 10 million dollars. Would I WANT to? I don't think so.

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