Friday, July 31, 2009


So spouse got me what I wanted. Of course I told him not to spend a lot but he said that the gift was for him too and he's worth it. Whatever. It works great and now we have music throughout the house. It's amazing how such a small gadget can vibrate the whole building. I don't know why but some songs on the Ipod are naturally louder so we have to be careful about the volume level when it's on shuffle mode.

We went down to the village for dinner. I was perusing the martini menu just looking for a plain one when the waitress arrived to take a cocktail order. So I asked which one she liked and you see those in the picture. I can't remember what all was in them but look at the pretty color. I ended up ordering a burger (with bleu cheese and carmelized onions) and did not have cake.

I got a birthday kiss too. You know birthdays get less and less exciting as you age. I can remember not being able to stand the waiting as a kid and now it's just pretty much another day. In fact, I worked my job which I haven't done on that day in ten years. (since I'm usually off at this time of year) I received 4 cards this year. Two of them had pictures of dogs on the front and two of them had pictures of little boys on the front. I'm not sure what that means but there it is.

Today I'm heading over to the bike rally to wave in the riders. They have ridden from Toronto to Montreal to raise money for aids patient care. I'll take pics and meet a couple bloggers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I don't wanna work today

It's so funny how I was checking out the bloggy buds and so many of us are in the "got nothing to write about" rut. It's like blog flu or something. Actually, blogging is much more amenable to winter time when you've got lots of indoor time. All I want to do these days is get outside. So I do. But then I get home and check my feeds and there's five hundred new posts in the queue and Ugh, I just don't have the energy to face it so I go do something else. I keep fantasizing about becoming a lurker. No more posts to make, no more commenting necessary. How divine to just be a consumer instead of a creator. But then I realize it's all take and no give and that's really no way to run one's life. I've cut my blogging in half which was on my goals list this year, so I'm happy about that.

Hey guess what? I'm 44 today.

I don't know what spouse bought me but I know he went out shopping yesterday. I know that I asked for an ipod docking slash stereo system so that we could have our music in other parts of the house than just the computer room. I got one of those wireless speakers for that reason but the signal is so easily interrupted that it gets squelchy all the time. No bueno. He said something to me yesterday like, "I guess we are going out to dinner." I told him only if I get to pick. He hates this because I always pick a place I know and love. He always wants to try a new place, too bad, he can do that on HIS birthday. I think I want to go to Saloon. It's been a while and they recently renovated. First though, I've got to go to work and keep practicing the verb Be with my student.

Finally today, I invite you to take this little quiz to determine how your thinking matches with existing religious ideologies. You can take the quiz here which I learned of from this guy.

Here are my top 10 results since the rest seem irrelevant:

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Mahayana Buddhism (97%)
3. Neo-Pagan (95%)
4. Liberal Quakers (92%)
5. Taoism (91%)
6. New Age (90%)
7. Theravada Buddhism (90%)
8. Hinduism (80%)
9. Scientology (76%)
10. Secular Humanism (72%)

Secular Humanism is the new term for Atheist in case you didn't know. My top score was Unitarian Universalism which basically is an open minded religion that encourages its followers to seek their own spiritual paths. Precisely. We are all different and therefore all have unique spiritual roads to travel. Those eastern faiths rank pretty high, I should probably add those to my reading lists. Or go to India or something. Happy hump day peeps!

Monday, July 27, 2009


I just had to show you the depth of my mental illness. That's what Em told me anyway, that my whining about the fatty mcfatterson I've become is indicative of mental illness. An illness shared by huge swaths of society and especially chez les gays. These pictures were taken three years apart. Maybe I was too skinny three years ago. I must have been on my "all tanning is evidence of skin damage" phase then. Now I'm fully on board with "you gotta die of something, you might as well look good." Plus tanned fat looks less cottage cheesy.

This is one year apart. (Now is on the left, last year on the right.) From the waist up I'm not so worried although I ran into an old friend the other day and the first thing out of his mouth was, "You're face looks rounder." Actually, I kind of like that part. And anyway you know what they say, "Fat and happy!"

On my marathon walk Saturday I passed by this famous church here. The neon flashing sign and message are so Vegas. But wait, let me translate: Your soul (flashing on and off) The salary of your sin is Hell. He who is born of God doesn't sin anymore.

Does that really make you want to come on in? I guess fire and brimstone still works.

These guys were just the cutest ever. It made me want this breed again. And you just have to get two don't you so they will always have a playmate for each other.

I made it all the way over to the island (took the metro under the river) where I got this shot of the Biosphere. There were festivals all over the island too which I surveyed and then I hopped on the shuttle to the casino. God it was crowded. I just wanted to put a twenty into a machine but it took me 15 minutes before I found one that was a: available and b: a nickel slot. Then I won ten bucks on the third pull so I stopped, cashed out and left. Sure it's only ten bucks, but I left a winner.

Later I noticed all these birds congregating overhead at our house. There must have been an updraft or "thermal" as I've heard it referred to. I couldn't figure out what kind of birds they were. Probably something mundane like seagulls.

After some libations and bbq burgers we tried these little frozen cheesecakes someone had brought to last week's party but failed to mention. Serge thought it would be funny to wipe the melting chocolate on his face. It was kind of funny. He kind of looks like a clown.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekend update

I'm fairly sure all the salient topics of my life have been covered. This leaves it up to the universe to provide blog fodder. I'm not asking for anything though, just stating reality. It's actually pretty mundane, life right now, but it's nice like that. Here's what's going on in bullet form.

* Made a tomato cheese pie yesterday. It sounded a lot better than it came out.

* Everyone up here is bitching and moaning about the deplorable summer we're having. I love it. We've only had the AC on once on a day back in June.

* I find the 20 extra pounds I'm carrying around unacceptable. Apparently, it's not unacceptable enough for me to change any of my habits. I used to be the guy who could eat any and everything without repercussions, but since I quit smoking (over a year now for those counting like me) this axiom no longer holds true.

* Mirrors are evil.

* One of our tenants gave notice yesterday. He lives in the stinky furnished studio that got all stunk up by the previous tenant, the heroin addict. We tried our best to clean it but the never-takes-a-bath smell came back. He didn't mind the smell (being from France and all) but I still catch whiffs of it because it's still oozing out of the couch down there. It's one of those smells that you wouldn't mind if it were say coming off a slice of cheese, but once you know it's BO stench, it's gag inducing.

* My good friend is having a heart brain battle. You know the kind, where they are of opposing opinions. It's like me with a dog. My heart wants a new one really badly but my brain keeps pointing out the lack of responsibility (and hair, shit and vomit) we are enjoying.

* Last payment on the flat screen TV today. Woo hoo it's really ours now. 12 equal payments seems like a good idea but really you're just having 12 episodes of pain instead of one if you just pay it up front.

* On day four with the level zero student he asked me what "a" was. Until then, he thought it was what it means in French. (at or to)

* My student has never heard of nor seen an avocado. Ditto for guacamole. He really is from the boondocks.

* Other things happening but not really noteworthy are bowel movements, meal preparation, showering, playing boggle, reading the newspaper and going on long walks every day. (I do love the long walks.)

* Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Level zero

Pretty neat sunset from Tuesday evening.

Oh my God you guys. My new class/student is killing me and I've only done three days out of 30. It is about as exciting as watching grass grow. Yesterday, he asked me five different times what "and" meant. Retention is really not one of his innate abilities it seems. Today will be day four of me repeating myself half a million times. He told me yesterday about how he was a truck driver (all this in French natch) and did long haul gigs over to Winnipeg. I asked him how he handled being in English Canada and he said he basically hid in his truck and communicated with no one. Never went to a restaurant except in Quebec. And he was making six figures. (This surprised me, I thought truckers had it hard.) He had an accident on the job which is why he is in this retraining program through workman's comp but he confided that he will probably just go back to trucking. He's just taking advantage of the years of free school and free money. He is darn proud of his milking the system too. Sigh.

Serge's little note to me after he transformed the leftover chicken from the bbq into chicken salad. As far as I know, he coined that word (even though he spelled it wrong.)

I worked out a budget that we need to stick to if we want to maintain our lifestyle, frugal as it is. Basically we've got to gross 50k. That seems doable even though I haven't cracked 20k since I moved up here....nine years ago. That's all changed this year since I picked up these extra workman's comp gigs. Still, Serge is down to just 10 hours a week at the job and the rest has to come from new business/clients which you can never count on (though he does and it usually works out.) The really bad part of doing the budget was seeing that we spend as much on booze as food. (!) That has to change. Granted, booze up here is likely three times the price of whatever y'all pay, but still. What a waste of money.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This n that

Well I started a new contract yesterday and I'm surprised once again at how little someone who lives here knows English. Pretty much all he knows is yes and no. I'm sure it's the same with Americans in some of the southwestern states with Spanish. (Heck, I was one of them.) This new guy I've got is awful nice but has professed to having failed French in school, his mother tongue. I have a feeling I'm going to be pulling my hair out over the next five weeks. I'll be practicing my patience that's for sure.

Here is our new upstairs neighbor's kitty. When Serge told me about the "ugly Egyptian cat" I went upstairs to check it out. So Cute! We were up there because Serge was changing a light fixture. I was holding the kitty (who purred up a storm every time you touched her) and Serge kept calling out to be careful because they cost $1200. Later on he told me we could get one if I wanted since they are easier to care for than a dog. I'll take both but if I have to choose only one, it's going to be a dog. Still, isn't she adorable? It's not really hairless, but the hair is so short it's like it was recently shaved. I thought she looked like something from Lord of the Rings.

Finally today, I've got a little video that I took at mom's house out in California. I had invited my cousin and her hubby and daughter over to play and I asked if they knew how to dive. They didn't! I got Carley to show me her "dive". The video is her second attempt. I think it's hilarious (in the lovingest possible way) especially since right after this video she asked, "Did my head hit the water first?"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Une soirée très réussite

We had a nice turnout for the barbeque yesterday. It's the first time we've thrown any kind of party in almost five years, since our wedding in 2004. The skies cooperated and though it got rather cool in the evening (we dragged out blankets for people to drape themselves with) there were no spoiling downpours. I prepped WAY too much food. I think I have forty hamburgers and 30 hotdogs and 6 chicken breasts left. It was pretty much a perfect night - good food, lots of drinks and oodles of laughter. This morning I'm rather hung but that was to be expected.

We had a couple of really funny moments. Here you see the collapsed chair next to Bryan who immediately shrieked, "I'm gonna sue!" Naturally him and his hubby had driven up from the states. They're old friends who recently moved to Boston from California so it was fun to reconnect with them and have an excuse to go visit Boston.

When it started getting cold I decided that I needed a sweatshirt so I headed for the walk-in closet. Unfortunately I didn't think about the fact that you have to go through our only bathroom to get to the closet. Without even thinking I barged in on poor Emilie who thankfully had just stood up from her pee. The look she gave me! All I had in my mind was the image of the sweatshirt hanging in the closet so I was kind of shocked too. Embarassing.

Speaking of girls peeing. When the party was winding down, someone made the observation that "they couldn't believe how many girls leave the seat up." I knew this one because I'm sure we've discussed it here on the blog before. "That's because they only sit down at home!" I clarified for him. Then I had to imagine all the female party guests in that awkward squat. I giggled at each image that conjured. I was thinking it was the booze, but I'm giggling still this morning. Happy Sunday peeps.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Couple of observations

So I always notice things when I go back to the states. Things that either I forgot were part of the culture or that stand out as something new. I've noticed this before but what really stood out this time was the difference in customer service. Well not really the service per se, but how it is rendered. The faked ebullience when greeted is so jarring. Maybe because here in Quebec there's a lot of surliness, I don't know. But when we finished placing our order at Islands (and we were a terrible four-top, grandma had a soup and my dad split a burger with his wife) the server exclaimed, "Awesome!" People were just so gall darn glad to see us enter their place of business too. Fakity fake fake fake. I suppose this is what is expected now though. I found it a bit irritating.

It reminded me of a job long ago, the only one in which I got fired, where we had to answer the phone with something like, "Thank you for calling RJ's home of the all you can eat Sunday brunch and Monday night football clam bake, how may I help you!" You had to shout it or the person on the phone would cut you off.

The other thing I noticed and forgot all about - personal injury lawyer advertising. It's simply everywhere. Talk about creating a society of victims. I kept seeing the ads with lawyers touting how much they wrang out of the insurance companies because it's the big bad insurance companies taking advantage of you, and I just kept thinking now who was taking advantage of whom. TV ads certainly aren't free.

The climate was spectacular though and I wouldn't mind wintering in the Southwest someday. A little cottage out in Palm Springs would suit me just fine. They are calling for a harsh and snowy winter this year which makes me laugh because, well, aren't they ALL harsh and snowy?

Alright enough blathering. I've got 2500 blog posts in my queue to catch up on (don't expect 2500 comments) and we've got to clean up for the little bbq party we're throwing tomorrow. Monday I start a new full time contract so my summer vacation is officially over. Wah- Wahhhh.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Home from California

They got over seven inches of rain here while I was gone. This, according to my electronic rain gauge anyway. Serge said they had thunderstorms practically every day during my absence. We are having people over Saturday for a BBQ - our first party of any kind in 5 years - and the forecast is for rain. In Southern California, they are going through their typical 6 month dry period.

One day while I was out there, I explored the Laguna Canyon Wilderness Park. It was inaugurated in 2006, and though I've seen those hills my whole life, I had never tramped around on them. It was pretty stupid of me, but I set out with no water, then got kind of turned around and ended up doing 6 and a half miles in the hot sun. Saw some pretty flowers though.

While I was walking around up there, I was talking to an old high school friend who was recently deceased. So shocking (suicide) to hear about someone my age dying, even if it did come from that lame website Classmates. I didn't go to the memorial service as it conflicted with family obligations.

The whole accident thing weighed heavily on me during the trip. The old couple I bumped into were supposed to get an estimate and call me. They didn't do that. They didn't call their insurance company. They didn't call my insurance company. No, even though I told them to let me take care of it, they called the rental car company. Thanks guys! So now the rental car people are calling me to investigate. The old couple finally got back to me yesterday with an estimate for the scratch on the bumper ($638!) and want a rental car for three days as well. I found a mobile shop that will do it for half the price and no rental car needed, but they are balking. If I had this "damage" on my car, I wouldn't even bother. I'm hoping to get this resolved anyway today.

I thought it was funny how they defined cruising in Long Beach. We all stopped and said what if you're looking for a parking spot and go around the block a few times?

The weather was just beautiful the whole time I was there. I kept bringing it up, but when you live there you kind of stop noticing it because almost every day is like that.

I didn't take too many pictures this time. Oh sure there are some of me and the family and a few of me and friends, but I've posted some like that every summer for the last four years. Seems a bit redundant to me. One day, my mom was talking about the "burning needle" sensation of the arthritis and a "ding ding ding" sound went off in my head. That's exactly what I was complaining about a few weeks ago. I had said burning and tingling but burning needles sounds exactly right. She consoled me though adding, "At least it's the good kind!" I had to laugh at that, hey you've got a debilitating illness but don't worry it's the good kind.

When I got back and Serge picked me up at the airport, we went to the Keg and enjoyed a scrumptious feast for carnivores like us. Serge had some news, apparently he had his hours cut in half at work. We're trying to look at this positively, he'll be able to focus more on his side business doing web sites, but it also means there'll be no more carnivorous feasts for awhile.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Nother mini update from California

OMG this was good. Mom is an avid fisherwoman (see blog here) and had just come back with a major haul of yellowtail, yellowfin and albacore. We've been in seafood heaven here and look what she threw together last night for dinner. This does nothing for you if you're averse to eating sea creatures, but I was in heaven.

I went up to Long Beach yesterday and met friends and had a wonderful lunch at Gladstone's. (Thanks Donna!) We found some pinball machines and played Terminator too. A real trip down memory lane.

Here's mom and the kids. They kept talking about the kids and I thought they were referring to someone in the neighborhood or something, but no, they were referring to these two. It's so funny to see the dog and cat rolling around playing with each other. I don't think they realize they are not the same species. Of course every time I try to get a video of them playing they stop and walk away as if nothing was happening.
I did get a video of me and my dad playing a tune together. Something I wrote when I was 16 but never recorded for posterity sake. It's riddled with errors, but that's what being an amateur is all about.
Embed isn't working for some reason, so you can watch it here.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Midtrip update

Wow, I've already been gone a week. It sure passes quickly. Vegas was a whirlwind of gambling and eating and we didn't lose too too much, which is just a hair less fun than winning. But only a hair. I have seen so many movies too. The trip started with me being upgraded to first class. I have no idea why and I didn't ask, I just thanked the universe. On the plane I watched Race to Witch Mountain because the version they made when I was a kid had made such an impression on me. I liked it. Then I watched Gran Torino which Birdie had recommended and WOW what a great flick. I could not stop laughing at Clint Eastwood's cantankerousness and the ending was one of the most satisfying I can recall. Then when I arrived in Vegas, Laverne's flight was delayed so I went to the movies and saw My Sister's Keeper solely because it was the next one showing at the time I arrived. Ugh. I don't go to the movies to have my heart ripped out, but that's what this one did. Can't say it was a bad movie, just a difficult one.
On the way to California from Vegas, I had a little automotive mishap, and when I say mishap, I mean I may have rear ended someone. Stupid old people don't know how to drive, but since I was behind them, some blame surely fell on me. What kind of car did I ding? A freaking Jaguar. I'd show you the minorness of the damage but I don't know how to erase the license number with my mom's computer (where I'm posting this from) but it's just a little bumper scratch. The rental car is fine too thank the baby Jebus. Still it kind of screwed up my mental state for a couple days.
On the 4th, I went on a big hike to a waterfall in the San Gabriel mountains and then visited the pappy on the 5th. We went to see The Hangover together which caused us to giggle helplessly throughout. If you like movies targeted to youthful males, this is not to be missed.
Now I'm camped out at mama's house until next weekend when I'll head back to Vegas for my flight home. Don't miss me too much now. Mwah!